7 Portes (Barcelona)

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Address: Paseo Isabel II, 14 
Website: http://www.7portes.com/catala/index2.php
Type of Meal: Lunch

During the morning we were visiting Barcelonetta, the port/harbour area of Barcelona, and went to 7 Portes as I wanted paella and heard they had a long standing reputation in serving it.  I've previously eaten paella in Toronto's Little Spain and in Barcelona (at a budget friendly establishment as a student), so was excited to try something nicer and hopefully more authentic.

The restaurant is large, compared to other Barcelona restaurants, and reminds me of the old Fish Houses we had in Toronto.  

The waiter started us off with a basket of cold rolls and small plate of green olives (as a warning you're charged 7€ for and not given a choice of).  Each table has a selection of 2 or 3 types olive oils which are interesting to try although they taste very similar.

We each had a salad:
  • A seasonal salad for myself, which consists of different types of lettuce and endives with vegetable garnishs (a piece of carrot, celery, 2 wedges of tomatoes and sprig of green onion).  The salad was undressed but I could easily make a dressing with the oil, balsamic vinegar and salt available at the table.  There was nothing special at all about this dish but portion was large enough to serve 2 as a starter.

  • A rocket salad for my husband made up of spring mix salad and a large portion of baked goat cheese dressed with a raspberry (?) viniagrette.  The rocket salad was definitely the tastier of the two salad selections.
Seasonal salad (1)

We split the parellada "rich man's" paella which contained a mixture of chicken, chorizo, scallop, shrimp, calamari, mussels and lobster. I must admit, I was disappointed. When you look at the menu on 7 Porte's website they showcase large whole prawns and crab legs on their paella. What we received was chopped up pieces of rubbery meat and seafood in rice. 
For a city with such abundant seafood, the amount featured in the dish was extremely disappointing.  The prawns were small shrimps, the scallops & calamari cut into small cubes and the lobster one of the smallest I've ever seen - really a large crawfish at best.  As the meat and seafood was cut into such small pieces they were overcooked and lost all the texture and flavour seafood should have.  For all I know, the seafood could have been frozen as it certainly tasted like that. 

The rice itself was okay - wasn't too soggy from liquid but the actual flavour wasn't for me. Firstly, I expected the rice to be golden yellow (from saffron) and plump and fluffy in texture. The rice we received was light brown and seemed like it was drenched with soy sauce (which I know likely wasn't the case). After some post-trip research, I now realize the paella containing saffron, which is show cased on cooking shows, is the "Valencian" style. Whereas, the Mediterranean mixed paella generally does not contain this rare spice.

The bits scraped from the bottom of the pan tasted good as it had a smoky nutty flavour. So I'm not sure - was the paella just not cooked long enough or perhaps they should have served it in the pan rather than showing us the pan and then plating it?

Parellada paella (2)

Service was good; the staff weren’t overly friendly but attentive. The only problem arose as we had a difficult time getting our bill - it took two attempts asking different waiters and even the second person took a while to get it to us.

I didn't think the meal was worth the 52€ (also had bottle of sparkling water and a beer).  In the end, the meal wasn't horrible, but, I feel like I could have gone to other restaurants and received something of similar quality for much lower prices.

If anyone reading this is Spanish and has tried 7 Portes - can you please comment as to whether the paella served is authentic? If it is, perhaps my palette just doesn't like paella.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html

Photo Sources:
  1. Seasonal Salad. Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g187497-d697396-r121336864-7_Portes-Barcelona_Catalonia.html)
  2. Paella. The Bon Vivant Blog (http://www.mdfeeds.com/2009/11/14/7-portes-barcelona-spain/)