Not that long ago, Betlem was a corner store that helped train the palates of those who lived in the post-Olympics Eixample neighbourhood with a variety of products that showed that there was life outside big supermarkets or small shops stranded in time. With a well-accustomed clientele, Víctor Ferrer, a chef trained in great kitchens, made the logical decision to close the store and make it into a tapas and tasting bar called Betlem Miscel·lània Gastronòmica.
For a time Barcelona was a place where tapas had all the flavour and texture of asphalt, but Betlem is a good example of the slow and exquisite transformation that happened here. What you could find in Madrid – the know-how to pour a good beer with the foam as fluffy as a pair of full lips – you could also find in Betlam. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Nowadays you'll still get a fantastically poured beer as well as a wide range of nibbles and happy customers. When I was there I tried a salmon tartare, ham croquettes, crispy pork jowls, and a carrot crumble with coconut foam. To quench my thirst I ordered a Moritz beer on tap, and to go with the pork I took the suggestion of a glass of Abadengo wine from Bodegas Ribera de Pelazas.
Some customers will be happy to dine on their cold sandwiches, others will hanker for a quality secret-recipe Iberian pork sandwich or the one of pork fillet with foie gras. Or perhaps you're among those who crave the patatas bravas or are tempted to try the stew of braised beef cheeks. I personally have loved 'callos' (tripe) ever since I left behind my childhood taboos, and I'd go back to Betlem again and again for their callos with chickpeas.
It's been written that one has to drink to forget. In this merciless century, a mojito or a good gin and tonic at Betlem can delight sceptics or pessimists who look for an answer to their problems in the dark of the night. Sometimes life gives you surprises, and Betlem is one.
|Venue name:||Betlem Miscel·lània Gastronòmica|
|Opening hours:||Sun-Wed: 9am-12am; Thu-Sat: 9am-1.30am|
|Transport:||Girona (M: L4)|