Set down on the edge of the Barceloneta district in Barcelona 7 Portes has been around since 1836, though changing throughout the years from the originally-named 7 Doors Cafe (it actually has eight) to the 7 Doors Restaurant it is today it.
Super popular with politicians and celebrities it's renowned for it's classic Catalan dishes as well as the best paella in Barcelona. Arriving promptly at the 1pm opening time we just beat the Que which almost immediately starts to form. We're shown through the dining room to one of the few non reserved tables by our white jacketed waiter, nothing looks as though it has changed since it's 1942 reopening.
The menu is vast and we umm and ahh for a while trying to decide whether or not to have the paella or try some of the traditional Catalan dishes. In the end the Catalan dishes won out, as paella's from Valencia and we planned to go there later on down the road. While the difficult decisions were being made a basket of crunchy bread rolls and a plate of mellow green olives were delivered to the table.
Quickly followed by a plate of the biggest white asparagus we'd ever seen along with a trio of sauces, romesco, salsa verde and aoili. The asparagus was silky smooth, the sauces an accent to it's flavor.
Next to the table a plate of red peppers roasted in the embers of a grill with soft flakes of salt cod and pinenuts and splash of olive oil. Smokey and sweet, a perfect example of ingredients in their prime treated simply with a few other great ingredients.
Now the dishes started to flow and in quick succession we received; Monkfish soup, not so much a soup as a piece of monkfish with a tureen of thick rich tomato stew on the side, very bouillabaisse like.
The potato cake with Iberico bacon and a fried egg had set all a quiver when it arrived in in a small cast iron pan, still gently cooking, the smell of bacon wafting up. The cake a small thick potato pancake crispy on the outside and soft on the in with the gently fried egg and bacon. Mmmmm. I could easily see this making a great breakfast.
Finally a Catalan cannelloni - the Catalan cannelloni has not much to do with Italian cannelloni apart from the thin strips of pasta that they wrap filling in. No tomato sauce, but a creamy graninated béchamel. The filling a mixture of minced chicken, veal and pork. A delicious gooey mess.
Feeling a little fullish we decide that perhaps the best thing is to share just one dessert. Somehow when I next looked down there were two on the table. Funny how these things happen. A Catalan cream with it's brulee'd top not as heavy or sweet as it's french cousin and lightly scented with orange.
Miel y Mató, a fresh unsalted cheese curd similar to ricotta covered with honey. What's more to say about that. Yum!
7 Portes may not have changed it's formula in decades but it has no need, the Que a mile long as we left will attest to that. It was great to see that while Spain is currently at the fore front of global modern cuisine many chef's and patrons are still proudly remembering where they came from.
Passeig de Isabel II, 14
Barcelona, Spain 08003
Tel +1 34 93 19 3033
Open Daily 13.00-1.00
P.S the Paella we saw being delivered to every second table looked and smelt delicious - next time round we may have partake.