L’Antic Bocoi (Baixada de Viladecols, 3) is located in the centre of Barcelona’s Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter). This is either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how you look at it: it’s certainly convenient, making it a great (and perhaps necessary) option if you’re meeting up with friends from all over Barcelona. If you plan to go out afterwards, you have all the bars of the Gothic Quarter at your feet. Despite being rather busy, Barcelona centre is also undeniably charming and atmospheric.
However, given that city-centre restaurants have a tendency to be overpriced and noisy, and often (given their transitory market, who will often stop by just once before leaving the city) offer inferior quality, you might have seen that in this blog we have a penchant for restaurants further afield.
Despite my initial scepticism, however, l’Antic Bocoi was a pleasant surprise. The restaurant is on the bottom floor of a charming old building down one of the narrow streets of the Barri Gotic, and has the curious feature of being perhaps the only restaurant in Barcelona to display a part of the city’s original Roman wall on its premises. This, combined with dim lighting and a Roman arched entrance, almost make you feel as though you’re in some kind of a cosy cave. I’m happy to say that, rather than being used as a gimmick, the historical aspect to the restaurant is presented with class, and mixed seamlessly with modern paintings and decoration. All of this gives L’Antic Bocoi a unique, artistic vibe, and it would be a great restaurant to take someone on a romantic first date in the city centre.
L’Antic Bocoi’s menu is somewhat restricted, but even the pickiest eaters are sure to find something on it that takes their fancy. The restaurant specialises in charcuterie, salads and coques (Catalan pizzas). Although quality is prized over quantity, portions are reasonably sized: between a group of seven of us, we ordered three salads and a coca each, and by the end of the meal were pleasantly full.
Local Catalan food with a Mediterranean touch
Most of the menu at L’Antic Bocoi draws on typical Catalan food for inspiration, featuring butifarra sausage, roasted vegetable escalivada and local parma ham as prominent ingredients. You’ll also find influences from other parts of the Mediterranean, such as and Italian-style buffalo mozzarella salad.
And, above all, it’s excellent quality: a tomato and tuna salad came beautifully presented and finished to perfection with a mustard dressing, and my coca with bacon, dates and cheese was a sight for sore eyes (or empty stomachs). All of this, as well as the other dishes my friends ordered (coca with cheese and pork paté; goat’s cheese, pine nut and honey salad; etc.), was incredibly flavoursome and served with care on top of tasteful tableware. In particular, we appreciated the fine, crispy dough used to create the cocas, which had a perfect amount of crunch.
Although the restaurant is not huge, we were perfectly comfortable here as a group, although I’d definitely recommend booking in advance: when we visited (albeit at peak time on a Friday night), it was completely full.
For me, the downside of L’Antic Bocoi is the prices. Call me stingy, but both salads and coques were priced coming up to the €10 mark, which is a little expensive for what, despite quality ingredients and stylish presentation, is at heart fairly simple food. But I guess you pay for the location, and I must say that the price-quality ratio is in line with (and probably in many cases far better than) other establishments in this part of town. At least the quality was high to match.
After all those salads and coques, some of the group ordered desserts. I was pretty full by this time and didn’t have any extra room for the chocolate tart (sort of like a brownie or moelloeux au chocolat, served with cream). Which was a shame, because it looked incredible, and I hear it tasted pretty good too.
Something I really appreciated about L’Antic Bocoi was the friendliness of the waiting staff. It’s not easy to remain unflustered and smiling on a busy night when you’ve been on your feet all evening, and they did an excellent job of it. By the time we’d finished eating, drinking and talking, it was getting late and the restaurant was already pretty half-closed, but no-one pressured us to leave.
Overall, if you’re in the centre of Barcelona I’d highly recommend L’Antic Bocoi as a restaurant choice. The atmosphere’s great and simple, high quality food is a great formula, and it’s a real novelty to eat somewhere where Barcelona’s Roman history is, literally, right behind you. That said, if you’re operating off a tight budget, or simply trying to avoid the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre, you might be better off exploring options a little further out.
L’Antic Bocoi is open from 7.30 – midnight, Mon. – Sat. To book, call 0034 93 310 50 67.
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