Although I am an experienced barfly, it is not always easy to find a good place right away. For instance, yesterday we couldn’t find our destination bar, so we were roaming Barcelona a good couple of kilometers until I gave up and we didn’t get to TOTO. Not that I doubted that it would be good there, I probably knew it from the beginning, but, honestly, after La Xampanyeria the soul demanded simple happiness of having snacks rather than gastronomic delights. Besides, what did I say? The bar is off the charts.
It looks magnificent. Through the wide open doors one can see a long bar corridor that rests on a wide and reputable restaurant hall with an open kitchen. Warm light floods the space, the bartender looks like young and inexperienced Vincent Kassel, but his quality workmanship is clear – and now the harsh Old Fashion and soothing Gimlet Pepino convince us that the choice was made correctly. Surprisingly, the price tag of cocktails is absolutely moderate, and as a compliment you get a saucer with local dried cured sausage and almonds roasted with chili and some kind of grass – rosemary – sort of.
TOTO is a place where it is customary to book tables in advance and without booking you can rely only on a bar counter, which is always an advantage, there always must be a place behind it. In the big hall you can see some good-looking older audience, someone is on a date, someone meets relatives at a long table, at the very entrance there are guys wearing shorts and sneakers (in my opinion it’s a very important note to Minsk residents) and they sip beer. Boy, how I like this European virtue with which they relate to their customers. I remember how the doorman in Amsterdam held the store door for me with a welcoming and absolutely sincere smile, despite the fact that I looked like a beggar who just jumped off the train, wearing a pair of sneakers and a stretched T-shirt.
But let’s go back to Barcelona. The bar counter is made out of marble, tiles on the floor are if not of some historical value then definitely are well-grounded and made to last forever, oak tables, 30+ waiters, cooks nodding hello when then see you passing by. Their meals are delicious: only brochettes topped with fried halumi cheese, prosciutto and confiture de kumquats (just listen how it sounds!) alone are worth going there, although even the day before I thought that nothing in nothing can the sandwich for 3 euros in La Xampanyeri. This is a very useful experience.
Here on I also need to clarify that Barcelona is not so famous with its cocktail culture, and most often instead of cocktail menu you are offered about only a dozen gin-tonic and the same number of mojito-style cocktails (which here they are not shunning to have listed even in the infamous Dry Martini Bar). Therefore, it counts as a great success to find an oasis with at least five cocktails in the menu, and even in cahoots with a bartender make a drink based on your description (and make an offhand karkade infused gin). Add this to this the luxury and splendor of the beautiful Spain of their conquest times and you will get an amazing restaurant.
Carrer de València 246, Barcelona
Mon-Sun 11:30 a.m. – 02:00 a.m.
Old Fashioned – 8,5 euros, Gimlet Pepino – 8,5 euros
Bruschettes – 13 euros