Let's get right to it: in Sant Antoni, where you have to pay for tap water and they charge you €13 for a plate of meatballs, there was a need for a place like Sant Antoni Gloriós.
Lucky for us, Fran G. Manduley has come back home. With the opening of Bohèmic in 2006, Manduley established the paradigm of what the unscrupulous among us call the gastrobar (in fact, Bohèmic turned out signature cuisine and was a temple inside a bar). A fiercely independent chef, Manduley closed Bohèmic in 2015, to do consultancies between Blanes and Bangkok.
Now he's opened Sant Antoni Gloriós, which he refers to as an updated bodega. Manduley is from the neighbourhood (his grandmother even worked in the building next door), and decided that the situation required the gourmet bar to re-emerge with more of a focus on the bar (or bodega). 'In the restoration process there are three factors: price, time and quality,' he says. 'And I am of the opinion that all three can't be just given out. I will, however, give you good quality and good prices.' Gloriós is a bar with four high tables with stools. You might spend about 45 minutes eating and drinking here, where the wine is chosen from a shelf of empty bottles – the prices, from €12 to €20 euros, are painted on the bottles – and they pour a fantastic 25 cl draught beer for less than €2.
Chef Manduley has partnered with Juan Carlos Ninou, owner of El Xampanyet, and you'll enjoy deli-style treats, tinned delights typical of bodegas, and some hot options. There are a dozen hearty dishes, which may not be a lot, but all are very well executed, like the Russian salad, the meatballs made with Iberian pork, and the cod fritters. You'll eat like royalty but get a bill that would please the working class.
Yes, Manduley, had a hand in bringing the dreaded gastrobar to town, and it shows – in the best of ways. They even have dishes like the favourites from Bohèmic, such as a mackeral with yogurt and yellow ají chili. Manduley is sure this is the time and the place to triumph, and we have no doubt he's right.