UPDATE: Nuvola Café is now CLOSED
Nuvola Café (c/ Roger de Flor 135, +34 93 265 16 84, www.nuvolacafe.es) is a regular haunt of my friend and habitual lunch companion, Dan. I’ve been in for a drink a couple of times and the food always looked good so I needed little persuasion to drop in for lunch when we had a mutual friend in town.
It’s run by three friends who used to work at the old Michelin-starred Jean Luc Figueras but there’s no pretension towards high gastronomy here: the focus is on quality, simple, modern cooking at the crisis-friendly price of €10.90 for the lunchtime set menu. It looks like a typical neighborhood cafe and you could easily walk straight past unless you knew about it.
Nuvola’s a morning, lunch and afternoon-only place except on Fridays when they open up at night for their ‘happyRITIVO’ — drinks accompanied by a succession of creative bites from the kitchen. They’ve recently started opening on Saturday nights too so check their website or Facebook page for up-to-date timetables.
There’s an Italian accent to Nuvola but it certainly couldn’t be described as an Italian cafe. You couldn’t describe it as anything geographically fixed, really which is no surprise given the Italian-French-Catalan-Persian passport combinations of the owners. You COULD describe it as stupendously good value.
After a glass of Epidor beer to cool us down and a plate of complementary and excellent potato crisps, we chose our starters. The options on the day we visited were a a salad with goji berries, prunes and a lemongrass dressing:
And an aubergine soup with boiled ham:
There was also a spaghetti dish that none of us tried. My salad was excellent though I am yet to be convinced by goji berries, which don’t bring anything to a dish that raisins wouldn’t except a degree of trendiness. I was dubious about the lemongrass dressing before I tasted it but it worked well, being interesting but not overbearing.
Dan’s soup was nothing trailblazing but simple, delicious and well seasoned. He also commented positively on the ham. Also noteworthy was the quality of bread served as an accompaniment, a small touch but indicative of Nuvola’s commitment to doing things right.
By this time we’d started on a very agreeable bottle of Fondo Antico Nero D’Avola, served by the not-at-all-camera-shy Daniel, before we tucked into our mains.
We all reluctantly passed up the vegetables with goat’s cheese, Dan and I plumping for the beef dish and Steve, our mutual friend, choosing the fish.
Roast beef with hummus was comprehensible enough but the third ingredient in the description, ‘Mister Corn’, was baffling. Baffling and, it turned out, a bad idea.
Some perfectly good beef and hummus had been scattered with desiccated maize shrapnel. It didn’t ruin it, but it certainly added nothing to it and was the single wrong note of the entire meal. Some rocket or other greens would have been ideal here — but I’ll be giving Mister Corn a miss in future unless it’s as a bar snack.
Steve’s fillet of gilt-head bream with green beans, sweetcorn and green curry left him happy enough but computer cackhandedness has left me with no photographic evidence. I didn’t taste it but I’d certainly be happy to try it next time based purely on its appearance.
There was a selection of Italian cheeses available as a dessert option. Cheese always makes me happy so we shared this with what was left of the wine. Well-kept, quality cheeses: nothing to review, really but welcome and very good.
We then had some very acceptable ‘chocolate soup’ with wafers which was appropriately rich with cinnamon notes.
and some mascarpone cream with oranges, equally good.
This is all, remember, part of a €10.90 menu del día. It’s sensational value.
To round things off we had some coffee and grappa before remembering to try something even better: nettle grappa.
I’d never had nettle grappa before coming here and it’s a real find. I urge you to try it if you visit.
A summing up of Nuvola Café shouldn’t be necessary if you’ve read this far. Friendly service by people who know what top-class service entails, good cooking, enough creativity to make things interesting but not so much pretension that the food is ruined. It’s good, it’s a bargain, and it’s the first place I’d personally head for if I had to get a coach into Barcelona from Girona airport and was dropped off on Passeig de Sant Joan. I’m sure I’ll be back for lunch and I have no doubt I’ll be going back for a ‘happyRITIVO’ Friday too.