Sunday, 20 May 2007

Restaurants in Vilanova: Lizarran – as good as genuine

And in the middle of centre of Vilanova you will find a perfect tapes bar, a genuine old place where one generation of chefs has taken over after the other in offering a varied selection of food at very competitive prices. Here you will have a chance to learn more about the local culinary traditions, but still do not have to worry about bringing your children.

A restaurants with those caracteristics would easily attract hoards of tourists. What a pity it does not yet exist! We do have some classy establishments with a special atmosphere serving typical local tapes, but these tend to charge premium prices and they are not suitable for children. Alternatively, you will find less fashionable places serving tapes at lower prices, but these are in the outskirts of the town. Finally, there is one exception, combining a bit of both. In the world of restaurant connaisseurs I am about to commit herecy – the place I will recommend to you is a franchise.

The facilities of Lizarran (address: C/ de Sant Gervasi, 41) are a fake. The rustic wooden details, the old photos on the walls and the hand written menus - everything is standardized and is being presented according to the group’s manuals. Let us now look at the positive side of things. For newcomers to a town, a branded restaurant can be a blessing, since you know what you can expect. Except for that, I admit having been to many branches of this chain and the one here in Vilanova is one of my absolute favorites.

Lizarran is a good place to go for a beer and some snacks. They have tapes, but also the more advanced Basque alternative – pintxos. These are mouthpieces of various ingredients held together by a toothpick. You will find peppers filled with cheese, serveral kinds of tortilla and sausage, fried prawns and skewers of pickled vegetables. Foreigners will experience this as authentic and different - you just grab a plate and then collect the pintxos you want by yourself. To avoid trouble with the waitors, be reminded to keep the toothpicks since it is the number and sizes of the them which will be used to calculate your check at the end of the meal. Lizarran is not expensive (price per pintxo starting from € 1) so here you can give in to the temptation to try many variations.

Pintxos are for adults. Most of them are served cold, and many of them contain spices for an acquired taste. If you turn your eyes to the menus on the walls, you will find that there also is a decent amount of warm dishes. Personally, I have a weakness for Lizarran’s patates braves while we usually order croquetes for our children. Dishes like scrambled eggs and similar indicate that this is a place for fast, sturdy meals. The down-to-earth concept combined with the affordable prices makes Lizarran a natural alternative to a lunch at home, something we regularly benefit from if Saturday shopping has taken longer than foreseen so the children are hungry while we are exhausted.

Maybe this is why Lizarran is such a popular place in Vilanova. If you plan to eat here, I recommend you to go early since the tables fill up quickly when the local people arrive in the afternoon. Look beyond the fact that this is a chain, swallow your pride and just enjoy the pintxos.

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