Beautiful space, delicious food, professional service, no surprises: the basics done right in Barcelona’s Eixample.
Places like Mordisco (Passatge de la Concepció 10, 08008, Barcelona, Tel. (+34) 934 879 656; Metro Diagonal) raise an interesting question: What do you want from a restaurant? When you’re deep down the foodie rabbit hole, either as an industry professional or just as an enthusiast, it’s easy to lose track of real-world priorities. You start to turn a blind eye to the foibles of independent restaurants because they’re run by people like you. You enjoy seeing the owner there, sweating blood six nights a week. Is that passion glinting in his eyes, or the reflection of the Damoclean Sword of debt above his head? Maybe it’s passion, in which case the food will be great! Unless he’s ill or on holiday. Then the food will be appalling. Mediocre service and eye-watering crimes against interior design? Who cares!? The siren call of food snobbery is loud: “Group-owned restuarants? Soulless production lines of pap for the maws of the masses,” it says.
It’s nonsense. The owners of restaurant groups are, sometimes, also people like you, but better organized. Done well, with ambitions trimmed to match circumstances, their professionally run restaurants can provide reliable, excellent, fresh, seasonal food at a sensible price in a beautiful location – 365 days a year. Mordisco, the sister restaurant of Tragaluz on the other side of the same alleyway, is a perfect example.
This former high-end jewellers has been redesigned to evoke a breezy, wholesome, Mediterranean air. The front of the restaurant is ostensibly a shop but really serves to showcase the produce the restaurant uses: multi-coloured, market-fresh fruit and vegetables, piled high: a picture of health and abundance. Pass the bar in a pillared central hall, skirt the kitchen, and you emerge into a skylit patio lined with art where fresh cakes, bread and pastries are laid out on a table and tree branches wave above. It looks like the breakfast lobby of a nice spa hotel.
Artichoke hearts (€6.20) are brought sizzling to the table, redolent of rosemary. This is big plate of a single flavour, but the single flavour is good. It’s a dish to share, but it’s top quality.
A superb open omelette, served in the pan with mushrooms and blood sausages scored highly with my wife and I. Big, simple, flavours; good produce. What’s not to like?
The hot veal carpaccio (€16.40) is also best shared. It has the unmistakable aroma of the kitchen’s charcoal grill, is butter-tender, well-sliced and well-seasoned.
My wife almost scoffed her dish-of-the-day poached egg with foie, wild mushrooms and potato (€9) before I could try it but the single forkful I liberated scored full marks.
I returned the favour by wolfing down my “ox-belly steak” (€17.90). Looked great. Tasted better. I was asked if I wanted vegetables or just potatoes – bonus points for a restaurant that pitches itself as offering healthy options – and the mustard-dressed assortment that came with the meat and rocket was excellent.
So far, so astonishingly good. A lemon curd meringue on a short biscuit base was wonderful:
But there was a stumble on the dismount. My carrot cake, while enjoyable, was on the dry side and showed signs of having been cooked by someone – not surprisingly in Barcelona – who was unaware of the finer points of the glories of carrot cake. I admit I’m probably unusually fussy in this regard.
Prices are reasonable for the area: expect to pay €40-€50 a head depending on how much you drink. This is a relative bargain for the area: the place was packed on a midweek Monday at 9pm with a mainly smart-casual, post-work crowd of colleagues not business dinners. After our meal, manager Martín showed us the elegant upstairs cocktail lounge (open until 2am at weekends) and private dining rooms. Like the downstairs space, they’re lovely; like the downstairs restaurant, I’m sure the drinks are well-made and sensibly priced without being cheap. I’m sure because nothing about Mordisco is left to chance. It’s professional to the bone, with everything and everyone involved well trained to deliver an enjoyable experience. A safe choice … even for food snobs like me.