A stylish haven for the hungry among the shops and offices of Sarria-Sant Gervasi.
Negro-Rojo‘s split name reflects a split personality. There are, in fact, two completely separate restaurants on the premesis (Av. Diagonal 640, 08017, Barcelona, Tel. +34 934 059 444, website) in front of La Illa shopping centre: Rojo, downstairs, is a ‘Japanese tavern’ with long, shared tables; while Negro, upstairs, is a glass-walled, wood-floored ‘modern international’ restaurant.
It’s a lovely space. The big windows let natural light flood in and afford views of the trees outside. The back window looks out onto the gardens and glass towers of the surrounding business district. When the sun goes down, clever lighting and a quality sound system give Negro a sophisticated pre-club ambience. This is in keeping with the DJ sets and late-night (until 2am) opening here on Thursdays through Saturdays. It’s all very cool and attracts beautiful people.
And me. The €18.90 menú del día here has an excellent reputation (book a table or be prepared for a long wait) but I visited early in the evening to check out the à la carte offerings.
The menu is a bit of an eclectic around-the-world affair, like a budget Anthony Bordain bucket list, with no discernable common thread: Spanish tapas, Italian pizza, Peruvian Ceviches, Chinese duck, Japanese sashimi… normally this sort of thing sets warning lights flashing in my head but there were also promising signs: a wood-fired oven near the entrance for the pizzas, ham being hand-carved, the presence of an actual Japanese restaurant downstairs.
Tuna sashimi tortitas with avocado and chipotle, anyone (€9)? They were perfectly fine, with a braves-esque sauce but not really my kind of thing. Much more to my liking were the baby squid with romesco sauce (€12). Tender, filled with squid ink , with bite provided by the crunchy green onions.
Steamed clams were fresh, simple and delicious.
Aubergine, parmesan and sun-dried tomato croquettes (€1.80 each) were also very good. Apologies for the terrible photo…
My wife opted for the burger with foie and onion relish (€16). A very nice burger, but the potatoes were a little on the salty side.
I had steak with celeriac and shitake (€18), which came cooked rare, exactly as ordered. The mash and mushrooms were lovely but the steak could have been better.
The smell of the wood oven was appealing so the extremely helpful staff offered to let me try a mini pizza. It was very, very thin and crispy, layered with parmesan and aubergine. Recommended.
We skipped dessert as we were very full. How was the ‘modern international’ menu? Pretty good. I’d go back. It’s a great place to get lunch if you’re shopping in La Illa or working nearby. The staff are excellent, the wood-fired oven is a great asset and a lot of care is taken with the dishes. At the weekend, the chef uses the oven to slow-roast meat and create special other dishes, which sound very appealing. Negro was modernized in late 2014 and moved away from a typical three-course dinner restaurant to a venue that’s suitable for sharing dishes in a more relaxed manner. While not a destination restaurant for foodies, it’s a fine place to meet friends.