Friday 11 July 2014

2014 Spanish Food Adventure - Day 1

From breakfast in Comptoir Libanais to tapas in Barri Gotic

My wife and I had been looking forward to returning to Spain for some months now. We would spend our first night in Barcelona and then move along the coast to the 22nd Psychobilly Meeting in Pineda De Mar. Last year we discovered we had spent most of our time in the neighbouring resort of Calella so that was where we would be staying this year before returning for a final night in Barcelona. I had a long list of things in my head that I was looking forward to eating whilst there, so it was just a case of tracking these things down and trying anything else interesting that we discovered along the way... 

The journey officially started the day before on the 17.00 train from Norwich to London. My interesting food adventure was not about to start here but a Budgens meal deal consisting of a tuna baguette, prawn cocktail crisps and a can of diet coke kept me occupied for the first ten minutes. The rest of the journey involved trying to complete level 29 of Candy Crush Saga, a mission that on this journey was unsuccessful.

This evening we were only ever going to be making it as far as Crawley where a Travelodge would be our home for the night, making our journey to Gatwick the next morning a breeze. I chose a doner kebab to take back to the hotel room, my wife cancelled her order for salad in pitta once she spotted the pitta bread laying over some meat being cooked. I was happy enough with my lamb doner with mayo and salad, my wife though had to resort to a packet of crisps and a breakfast bar from the vending machine in the hotel foyer.

After a decent nights sleep and excited about the journey ahead our thoughts soon turned to breakfast. The Travelodge were offering this £7.65 all you can eat offering downstairs but we knew the choice at Gatwick Airport would be far better. We did out of interest head downstairs for a look at the Travelodge breakfast and it didn't look too bad at all really. We even briefly considered the possibility of eating it and not paying but in the end walked away in search of better things at Gatwick. The short bus journey from outside the hotel to the Airport meant we arrived with plenty of time for breakfast before boarding our flight. There was only one place in the airport we had not yet eaten breakfast in and that was..

Comptoir Libanais
Departure Lounge
North Terminal
Gatwick Airport

Breakfast served daily until 11am

Comptoir Libanais can be found on the far right of the upper eating area in departures.

I loved the Lebanese style of this restaurant!

 Many of the things on display were on sale, if you needed a pretty bag or a fancy tea pot before boarding your flight then your luck was in.

 Ornate tiles and Turkish delight, I loved this place!

The Lebanese breakfast sounded delicious, I was looking forward to trying fool moudamas and even opted for scrambled eggs over fried. The full menu can be found here.

A regular cappuccino at £2.20 seemed fairly reasonable at an airport.

Cutlery and sugar in these colourful food cans worked nicely and looked great.

 A fancy tea pot and cups that took us right back to our school days.

Ketchup was available on request and they were fairly generous with it.

The plates may be the same as Wetherspoons but the similarities ended there, the food here was delicious!

There were a lot of these cubed potatoes ensuring we would not be needing lunch.

 The fool moudamas was amazing and went perfectly on top of the buttered sourdough.

Creamy scrambled egg, a large roasted mushroom and an almost entire tomato.

The lamb sausages made a nice change suiting the breakfast perfectly.

I initially thought the sourdough looked quite dry but once buttered up it was delicious!

The Comptoir vegetarian breakfast comes with haloumi and costs £8.95, my wife thoroughly enjoyed it.

Upon entering - Most of the places I have eaten breakfast at in Gatwick Airport have felt quite busy and hectic. This place felt different though and we soon forgot we were in an an airport at the peaceful and relaxing retreat found in the corner of the departure lounge. The Lebanese style has been nicely executed throughout with traditional tiles, ornate tabletops and things hanging everywhere. If you like the look of the things hanging from the walls or perched on the shelves you can buy them and take them with you. There is a full table service and a good selection of tables, each one has cutlery and sugar stored in lovely coloured food tins. A menu arrives once you are seated, ketchup is available on request and the bill arrives at the end. Without a doubt an impressive environment to dine in before your flight. 8/10

Service - The service here was efficient and friendly but best of all relaxed, this complimented the environment perfectly. We were shown to a table, given a menu and enough time to decide what we wanted. We placed our order, my wife changed her mind over how to have her eggs cooked three times, the lady placing our order wasn't phased in the slightest though. First the drinks arrived, followed by the breakfasts and sides of toast, ketchup was requested and arrived swiftly. When requesting the bill at the end of the meal we chatted to the lady serving us to find out more about Comptoir Libanais, she told us how it was a fairly small chain that was growing rapidly. 9/10

Contents - 2 sausages, cubed potatoes, scrambled eggs, fool moudamas, roasted mushroom, grilled tomato and 2 slices of toasted sourdough and butter. 8/10

Presentation - Everything sat tidily together in the centre of the plate and looked nicely cooked, garnish had been used on the egg, tomato and fool moudamas. 8/10

The food - I don't recall ever eating a lamb sausage before but will be sure to again after trying these ones, nicely browned, delicious taste and good firm texture. I love scrambled eggs but as you know usually choose fried, I made a good decision here though as the scrambled eggs were amazing with a creamy taste and nice loose texture. The fool moudamas was new to me but I was keen to try something different, this crushed broad bean dip made with extra virgin olive oil was just stunning! It was topped with a chickpea & tomato garnish and spread on top of the buttered toasted sourdough was just incredible, one of the nicest things I had tried in a long time! The cubed potatoes were crunchy with fluffy centres, perfect dipped in ketchup. The tomato had a great flavour and the mushroom was amazing. 9/10

Value for money - The full breakfast with a side order of toasted sourdough and a cappuccino costs £12.65. This may seem a lot for a breakfast but airports are always more expensive and this was one of the best airport breakfasts I have ever had the pleasure of eating so worth every penny! 8/10

Veggie option - Comptoir veggie breakfast - Fried or scrambled egg, haloumi, cubed potatoes, fool moudamas, mushroom and tomato. £8.95 

Overall - The peaceful oasis that has been created in the far corner of Gatwick's north terminal is certainly well worth a look. The Lebanese twist that has been used on the breakfast works perfectly and tastes amazing. Great service, nice environment and excellent food! 8.5/10

Easyjet were on time for once, amazing! Next stop Spain!!

The highlight of the flight was a can of Pepsi Max and half a Twix. I still didn't manage to complete level 29 of Candy Crush Saga..

 At Barcelona Airport the train was arriving at the platform, the lady in front decided to ruin the shot though.

We had booked a double room at Hostal Balmes for the night, we didn't expect much for £30 a night but this place was amazing! The bedroom had traditional tiled floors and a high ceiling, it led out into this lovely room which looked out onto a large courtyard.

There was no air con but all the windows opened wide so no stuffiness going on here.

Just around the corner of Hostal Balmes was my favourite Guadi masterpiece Casa Batllo, just stunning!

We headed into the Barri Gotic district searching for frozen yogurt but suddenly an ice cream seemed more appealing.

I nearly went for the dark chocolate but suddenly remembered my Spanish Food Adventure.

 Crema Catalan it was to be then. This ice cream captured the flavour superbly, the crunchy sugar topping could be found in places and was the best part.

 The breakfast with coffee briefly caught my eye but this tourist picture menu was exactly what I was looking at avoiding on this trip.

We continued on through the narrow passageways of the Barri Gothic District.

 Not sure what was going on here!?

The search for an empty table outside a restaurant ended in this quaint little square.

 We started as we meant to go on with a jug of sangria.

We ordered tapas, it looked a bit like tourist tapas but was enjoyable all the same.

The calamari rings were my favourite part of the tapas.

The stuffed olives were ok, we struggled to identify what they were stuffed with though? 

My wife's favourite dish was the anchovies, they didn't last long!

The Catalan bread topped with garlic and tomato is essential when ordering tapas and really delicious.

Hmm.. Not the most impressive tortilla but nice enough.

We ordered Patatas Bravas with a spicy sauce but it arrived with aioli sauce, I was tasting more blue cheese than garlic though. 

As we headed across La Ramblas and back towards the Hostal we decided we would find much better Tapas here at some point during the holiday.

 Back in our room my wife pointed out how tidy my case was.

Sadly her luggage had a mind of its own!

Day 2 - A morning in El Raval and first night of the festival, click here

1 comment:

  1. Stuffed olives are stuffed with anchovy paste. Everyone knows this, which is why they never bother to say what the "rellenas" are "rellena"'d with,. The best ones are the "serpis" brand. Here in the UK, you can get them from Aldi and they are almost as good as Serpis, and better than most (if not all) supermarket own-brand ones in Spain.