Sants is earning a well-deserved reputation as a neighbourhood full of pleasant surprises. One of them is the second phase that's started at Pan & Oli, with Carlos Ortiz in the kitchen. In pleasant, simple yet tasteful surroundings, the small restaurant stands out for its original, tasty and modern cuisine, but also for the attention it pays to its wine selection. Ortiz has joined a second generation of good, young and experienced chefs who bring more brilliance to this city of prodigies.
Pan & Oli offers much more than its name (which translates to 'Bread & Oil') might suggest. It offers a weekly set lunch menu for less than 16 euros that's very well-rounded and balanced, and an à la carte menu with tempting dishes that do not disappoint. For example, the puff pastry with smoked mackerel and a light alioli of Ortiz's own creation, which deserves high praise.
We start with a welcome vermouth accompanied by two seasoned mussels, one with a spherification of olive and the other with a marinated olive, both are tasty and surprising. We continue with a Piedmontese-style polenta; that is, it's cooked and then fried, so it's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A smooth gorgonzola makes for an interesting sauce. And it's not made with precooked polenta, explains the chef, but from the kind you have to stir a good while. A slow-roasted pork 'cochinita pibil' burrito came next, before the dessert, which was a terrific home-made carrot cake. The service is attentive, and they'll explain and inform about the dishes with pride.