Grant Van Gameren's latest endeavour, Bar Raval, has been rammed from day one. I finally got to visit today to sample some daytime snacks and some of the best coffee I've had in a while.
The first thing you should know, if you haven't been, is this is a bar, not a sit-down restaurant. Modelled after traditional Spanish tapas bars, there are a few stools along the window, but it's mostly standing room. The idea is that you dip in for a brief bite and a drink before moving on to your next destination. It's an idea I'm totally on board with and wish there were more spots doing this so you could actually hop from bar to bar like they do in Barcelona.
And the spirit of this place is definitely of that city. Everything in here is begging to be touched - from the gorgeous, swooping wood, the plaster walls, even the tiles and mosaics in the bathrooms. It's all a very warm and tactile experience, right down to the eating, because of course, the food is meant to be eaten by hand.
This afternoon, I tasted the smoked bacalau (salt cod) croissant and the tortilla española (a type of Spanish omelet). Both were delicious, but I preferred the tortilla, topped with roasted pepper and anchovy. And the bite of my friend's honey and orange donut had me rethinking my feelings about marmalade.
The accompanying coffee - a cortado - made with Calgary's Phil & Sebastian beans, was exceptional. I had two. I could have had a third, but opted to finish off our visit with the always delicious Cocchi Americano vermouth on ice.
Bar Raval is open an ambitious 7 days a week from 8 am to 2 am. They don't take reservations, as it's meant to be a quick dip kind of spot, but for now, the best time to get in without a wait seems to be in the morning to afternoon. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.