Thursday, 5 July 2007

Restaurants in Vilanova: Celler del Ton – A home away from home

One of the trends in the restaurant world is to welcome people to a 'home away from home'. El Celler del Ton really feels like a home, but that does not mean that the place is trendy. Or if it is, well then my mother-in-law's dining room is trendy as well. To draw the comparision further, my mother-in-law does serve good traditional food, just like this restaurant .

El Celler del Ton (C/ Cuba, 49; phone: 93 815 39 33) is hardly possible to find without a map or a road description. Thanks to our local newspaper, we came across it when we wanted to discover a new place for tapes a couple of weeks ago. However, we were discouraged many times before we finally sat down at a table. First of all, carrer de Cuba is not exactly one of Vilanova’s more typical restaurant streets, although it is in the city center. Secondly, when we looked in through the door we met with the backs of a thick group of people, all standing around the bar. Our feeling was that we had crashed some private party so we were just about to excuse ourselves and leave again, when the owner looked out from behind all the guests and invited us in.

I dare to guess that this place has been decorated according to personal taste and with a total disregard to design books. The wooden walls set a warm, non-Spanish tone and are so full of framed art prints that they would need to remove some paintings, should they decide to buy new ones. Combined with smart black placemats and linen look-alike napkins with a sparklingly bright design, the interior is totally different from what I have seen before.

For the spirit of the restaurant, we started with a glass of cava while making our selection of food. I assume that most local people see this as a place for finger food per picar, since they do not have proper main courses. We were thinking in terms of a dinner, as we accept it to be, and I must say that with some plates of iberic, cheese and pa amb tomaquet, a rich sallad and some ovenbaked bacallà, we had more than we could eat. All this was accompanied by the good red wine of the house.

El Celler del Ton has managed to create its own distinct niche although it has only existed for two years. There are less than ten tables and, apparently, the clientele might be small but is very faithful. For that reason, advance reservations are an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to make sure to be able to sit down.

The owner himself is the main explanation to the welcoming atmosphere and it did not take long before he and I found out that we had been working for the same company. To make the story even better, after having mapped the old colleagues we had in common, it became clear to my wife and me that this was in fact the very first restaurant we learnt about in Vilanova. The only problem was that we got the recommendation one whole month before we moved here and almost one year before the restaurant opened up its doors to the public. How nice that we found our way there now, albeit by coincidence. Tapes is the perfect solution if you do not want a full three-course dinner but still want to go out for a snack. We will soon be back.

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