You're at the company dinner and it's nearing one o'clock: the gin and tonics are still flowing, ties are loosening, heels are being slipped off, the carajillos are being served. A generally good time is being had by all: bitter workplace enemies call momentary truces and the feeling of traditional Christmas pints is in the air. Suddenly, it all screeches to a halt. You and 20 drunken workmates are left scratching your heads and looking round the table at each other with your best poker faces. The bill has come, and it blows the budget to smithereens. The buzzkill has earlier ideas of nightclubbing turning into an argument over whose neighbourhood bar serves the best €1 beers. To avoid such a traumatic scenario, we've selected eight spots where you can sup like royals and pay no more than your €25-per-person budget allows.
Carlos Dasilva, the chef and the brains behind this superb tapas bar, advocates the use of local products and the humane treatment of livestock. As he says, his group menu is 'a statement of principles' made up of a long list (15!) of tapas and small dishes in the Catalan tradition, starting with Catalan figs with Parmesan and finishing up with a steak tartar. Incluing a Catalan wine pairing, it'll set you back €25 a person. Talk to him before you book, as they can make a menu to suit groups from 6 to 60.
La Góndola Italian restaurant is your budget’s best friend with set menus ranging from €15 to €22 per person. You can get things going with a selection of six starters, such as Neapolitan fritters, cold cuts, bruschetta or aubergine with mozzarella, carry on to mains with their outstanding pizzas cooked in a wood oven, or expertly executed pasta dishes. And to drink you get a bottle of wine between every four people, and a Lambrusco on the house. A group is defined as between 10 and 50 people.
Amazing Italian cuisine with a Chilean touch, Alta Italia may be the size of a cosy bar, but it's a big little restaurant with affordable prices. With fast and friendly service, something you can't always get when dining in a grouop, they serve up dishes such as an aromatic rice with perfectly prepared truffle, and Saltimbocca (veal with ham and sage). For €21.90 your group of 4 to 30 people gets a nice wine from Castilla and starters include breadsticks, olives and bruschetta.
A word of warning for wine lovers: Ikra's €25 group menu includes water but not wine; however, you do get deluxe pre-starters (thin and crispy pan de cristal, Canary Islands speciality potatoes papas arrugás, croquettes) followed by starters and then organic mains – try not to drool directly over the glazed calamari with onion confit – prepared with care and creativity. It's worth another €6 per person for the wine.
They’re not joking around at Ofis. The daytime version of the Sifón bar does one of the best set lunch menus in Barcelona in their price range (€10), and you won’t be disappointed by the nighttime menu either. Chef Jorge Runnacles talks in terms of ‘flexibility to do what the client wants’. So you can ask for what you like, but for €25 they suggest, for example, a crunchy chicken salad with lime dressing and cream of courgette with truffle soup, and for mains they have gnocchi with Osso Buco ragout or baked seabass. The house wine is Ca N'Estruch, and the value for money is supreme. If your group is three or more, you’ll dine in Sifón next door, and if you’ve got 20 or more to go round the table, they’ll open Ofis just for your group.
Pan & Oli is leading the wave of young chefs who are bringing back the tapa a la Catalana with gread materials and imagination. You get a lot for a little: €25 each and your group will enjoy a mini tasting menu that starts off with their patatas bravas in a glass and then goes through six xmall dishes with classic flavour, including cannelloni with roasted foie gras sauce, seafood soup and deboned veal with Toro wine sauce. And it's a dinner / wine pairing! The downside: your group has to be 12 diners or fewer in order to get the best experience.
The people's classic, Cala Blanca, opens at night only by special appointment. If you've got 10 or more in your party, you can sup on a set menu that might be fossilized in time but is tasty nonetheless. For just €24, you get unlimited Rioja, glazed duck, entrecot, or mushroom and Parmesan risotto.
Inter-Tapa is a tapas bar with a secret: they also do Russian menus to order. If you're a group of four or more and you book at least two days in advance, you'll gobble up a gargantuan Russian feast in a dining room decorated like a Russian dacha. The brave among you will try the vodka blinis. Ask for Leonid at 680 26 99 91.