Gouthier, in the uptown district of Sarrià, is Barcelona’s go-to bar for top-quality oysters.
Review: Gouthier bar-restaurant, Sarrià, Barcelona
Gouthier oyster bar is in Sarrià, an uptown Barcelona district that still feels like the separate village it once was. Its terrace spills out onto a pretty square far beyond the roaming range of most tourists. No madding crowds disturb the diners; the only interruption is the gentle chiming of a church clock. Inside the bar, casually but expensively dressed locals meet in the relaxed manner of regulars. There are no poseurs here, no fashion-chasers, just couples clinking glasses and old friends giggling as they share gossip.
Everyone’s here for the same thing: the best oysters in town. Gouthier has been open for over a decade and now supplies briny bivalves to many of Barcelona’s top restaurants. That puts it in a prime position to offer the best and freshest oysters to its own customers. A selection is laid out on ice on the bar. On the wall, a video shows oysters being cultivated and harvested. A waiter with a salt-and-pepper hipster beard and the wiry forearms of a climber – or professional strangler – tirelessly prises apart the gleaming shells as orders come in. It looks like hard work. Shucking hell.
The menu sorts the oysters by type and size, with clear descriptions for novices. Prices range from around €2-€7 per oyster. There are also non-oyster tapas that come in small portions for €6-€12 each. Regardless of how much you enjoy them, tiny tapas and oysters aren’t filling. To avoid leaving hungry, order the rye bread with creamy French butter, which you must smear on in thick and indulgent mounds. I’m incapable of restraint when faced with good French butter and I’d happily eat it all the way to the door of the cardiology unit.
But we’re here for the oysters, and here they are: the algae-dyed Esmeralda; the local half-shell hero from the Delta d’Ebro; the Northern Irish Miurgen; the sweet Spéciale de Claire from Marennes Oléron; Gouthier’s own variety cultivated in Normandy; and the mighty, iodic Belon from Cancale.
Expect to spend around €50 per person in total for a meal, though there’s no reason at all why you shouldn’t blow your budget on oysters here before heading to the nearby Bar Tomas for a pile of cheap but cheering patatas bravas. If you choose tapas, the eel and oyster tartare (€12) is an unusual but successful collision of seafood, green apple and avocado. The cockle ceviche (€9.50) is nifty bar snack served in a can:
And the blowtorched octopus on a bed of soft hummus, dusted with smoky paprika and crowned with crackling ibérico pork fat (€11.90) is a savoury treat:
There are no desserts but a selection of cheeses costs €16.50. It features rambunctious Italian and Spanish types including Parmiggiano Reggiano, Manchego, truffled Moliterno and ripe blue Cabrales, all of which can be overpowering. To wrap things up in more suitably subtle Francophile fashion, choose some Epoisses or Camembert instead.
If you like oysters, go to Gouthier. There’s not much else to say. This little slice of Paris in Barcelona does what it does exceptionally well. The quality of the oysters here is beyond reproach, the service is friendly, the atmosphere relaxed and the wines well selected. Gouthier is not, however, cheap. Sarrià is a pricey part of town and Gouthier serves prime ingredients. The gastrobar-style tapas are well-thought-out and executed but also on the wrong side of the value-for-money divide. Not far enough, however, that it should deter you. This is a great spot for an indulgent but informal romantic meal, or a night when you don’t want the cooking to get in the way of the ingredients. Gouthier is the go-to Barcelona bar for oyster aficionados.
Gouthier: C/ Mañé i Flaquer 8 – Plaça Vicenç de Sarrià, 08017 (Sarrià), Barcelona; Tel. (+34) 93 205 99 69; www.gouthier.es; Tues-Sat 1pm-4pm & 7.30pm 12.30am; Metro/FCG Sarrià
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Want more places to eat in Sarrià? Read the neighbourhood guide.