4 Gats


(Barcelona, SPAIN) — After a decadent and unusual Christmas dinner the day before in Barcelona, we were looking for something a bit more down to earth. We found Els Quatre Gats, aka 4 Gats, while looking for some place to have lunch. A bar, brewery, and restaurant...what’s not to love? We made reservations via email, then after a leisurely stroll through the Gothic quarter on a brilliantly sunny morning, we sought lunch in a dark interior...

He Fed:

I am excited. 4 Gats is the only brewery I found during my research of this section of Spain, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other kinds of beer the region offers. Thanks to Google Maps, we easily find the building, tucked away in one of the alleyways. Of course, we could have just kept an eye out for the tourists outside; there are a couple taking each others’ pictures next to the sign. We head inside, to the dim, quaint tavern and stand around, waiting for someone to help us. After a minute or two, a small woman rushes inside with a heavy coat, answers a ringing phone, then offers to help us. We communicate that we have reservations. Ah! she exclaims, grabbing two menus. Follow me!

We are led from the authentic bar front to a dining room at the back. It’s a larger room with tablecloths and waiters dressed in starched uniforms. Oh no, I think...we’re going to get soaked. Here we were, just trying to grab some simple local cuisine, and now we’d be forced to order top-tier dishes. But at least there’d be beer!

A waiter approaches. We order sparkling water. I ask what kind of beer they have. “San Miguel,” he replied, smiling. I blink, my face reddening. That’s it? “Si,” he says, still smiling. So much for brewery. I order a San Miguel. Later, I find out that 4Gats was indeed once a brewery...shut down in 1903. It still carries the designation “cervesaria” but clearly it’s only a faded memory. I try to chin up when the San Miguel is delivered in a heavy glass mug. To my surprise, the beer is cold and quite good. I can’t recall the last time I had San Miguel. It’s a yummy lager that hits the spot.

To start, we order a large platter of thick-sliced Iberico ham. Salty, fatty, meaty deliciousness doesn’t exactly melt in your mouth, but definitely keeps you coming back for another slab. Some nice sourdough bread and olives help stave off pork overload.

Despite our intention to keep it a humble lunch, I am drawn to the sirloin steak with potatoes. I must be craving beef for some unknown reason. Out comes a gangly hunk of cow, garnished with sea salt, rosemary, tomatoes, one potato, and some lovely grilled hot peppers. It is perfectly medium rare, just the way I like it, and tender, with very little of the gristle or springy fat I usually expect from sirloin steaks. The peppers send it over the top; they are sweet-hot goodness I try to scoop up with every forkful. It turns out to be one of the finest steaks I’ve ever had.

Dessert is out of the question but the beer flows pretty free. We are happy. Finally, when we are ready to pay up and depart, our server sees us slipping a tip under the receipt (tipping in Barcelona is not always expected). He rushes over with two glasses of complimentary cava before we leave. It would be rude not to enjoy it, right? Cheers!
She Fed:

Lunch at 4 Gats is something Jeremy’s been anticipating, having read online about their microbrewery. I’m more interested because Hemingway and Picasso used to hang out here. Armed with Google Maps and our appetites, we strike out. It takes some doing but after a 30 minute stroll through the winding side streets of the Gothic District we find it.

We are shown to our table, passing through the more casual area of the restaurant and into the back of the building where tables with white cloths and nicer servingware adorn the tables. Throughout our vacation, we find several restaurants featuring more casual (often more fun and affordable) dining options in the front with more formal (pricey) dining in the rear.

A distinguished man welcomes us, presenting the luncheon menu. As soon as we speak it’s clear he’s disappointed we’re Americans. Jeremy asks about the beer list only to find they only have two on tap; this is not a microbrewery. Another surprise when we open the menus: this is going to be a spendy lunch. Jeremy’s dream of drinking local beer and munching tapas is dashed.

We console ourselves with a platter of Iberico ham. Yes, I know it’s a shame those little pigs were fed barley and corn to fatten them up for a few months and then strictly acorns to sweeten up the meat, but darn are they tasty! The ham is intensely salty and slightly sweet. Paired with crusty bread hot from the oven, it’s downright heavenly.

Jeremy announces he’s getting the steak. We decide to make this our big meal of the day, so I opt for the roasted lamb shoulder with potatoes. Ever since yesterday’s lamb I had at Restaurant Moo, I’ve been craving more.

Our refined gentlemen greeter has passed our table on to another server, who is efficient, attentive and slowly warming up to us. He beams when I raise my eyebrows at the sight of my plate, piled with a generous portion of lamb atop thin potato slices. The lamb is falling off the shoulder bone and is without a doubt, the absolute best lamb I have ever had in my life. It’s luscious with meaty, not gamey, flavor. The potatoes underneath are sinfully rich from cooking with the lamb. Is there anything better than sides that have slowly cooked in the meat juices? I devour the potatoes, but cannot finish all the the lamb; it’s just too much.

When our waiter asks about dessert I opt for another glass of the house red. As we’re paying up, he catches site of the $10 Euro tip Jeremy is leaving (we tip too much according to European standards), mumbles something to a colleague and bolts for the kitchen. Moments later he presents a silver tray with two glasses of champagne “for your visit to us” he stammers. What a perfectly lovely meal!

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