For those of you who’ve seen Spain: On The Road Again, you’ll remember the episode where the whole group, including special guest Michael Stipe, had an awesome tapas meal in Barcelona. That restaurant was Inopia, and was run by Albert Adria, brother of El Bulli’s Ferran.
Earlier this year, Albert announced that Inopia was closing, as he and Ferran were opening 41º , a cocktail bar and Tickets, a tapas bar (getting a reservation at both is almost as elusive as El Bulli). Luckily, after some frantic internet research, I realised that Inopia still lives on, in the form of Lolita. It’s now run by Albert’s partner at the old Inopia, and apart from a few tweaks in the decor, the menu is still the same. Phew.
Again, our first trip here was so awesome that we came back a couple of days later to sample more of the extensive menu. So while we do eat a whole lot, these were consumed over two meals.
There’s an entire section of the menu devoted to olives and anchovies. Pity that on both days, they were out of the boquerones – a pickled anchovy, so we couldn’t try a tapas that combined salted and pickled anchovies. We did have a pincho with an olive, salted anchovy and Basque peppers, as well as a tostada with smoked anchovy and tomato nectar. Both were excellent.
Patatas bravas is a traditional Spanish dish that features potatoes and a spicy sauce. Most establishments have their own take on it, and hands down I liked Lolita’s the most. The potatoes here are sliced pretty thin, so there’s more crispy bits compared to the thick wedges that are served elsewhere. Super addictive.
The fried prawns here are awesome. Lightly floured but not as much as tempura, there are just fried till crisp so you can eat everything, including the head. Especially the head. Prawn head juice is clearly my new obsession. The flavour of these was amazing.
They have a mini burger with cheddar cheese, tartar sauce and pickles, which was fantastic as well. The patty was perfectly cooked, juicy and flavourful, and the flavours of the toppings just really came together. They also had a ham and truffle sandwich that was out of this world.
One of the things I’ll remember most about Lolita is the cheese. Yes, A may have gotten violent food poisoning as a result, but I attribute it to him eating the rind of one of the cheeses, which was probably not meant to be eaten. We tried 3 cheeses – a Saint Marcellin, the Torta de Canarejal, and a grilled cheese with truffle honey.
The first 2 were oozy cheeses, in particular the Canarejal, where the centre never really sets so when you lop off the top, the inside is nice and runny. It was really oozy and creamy, but not particularly potent. The Saint Marcellin, on the other hand, had the consistency of a soft Brie or Camembert, and was really quite strongly flavoured. Not for the faint hearted, but heaven for us. And the cheese with truffle honey? All I can say is, it was as amazing as you could imagine.
Their dessert specialties seem to be their fruits. On the first visit we ordered the pineapple with lime zest and molasses, and the second night we tried the strawberries with a caramel vinaigrette and orange zest. Between the two, I preferred the pineapple – the flavour combination, bizarre as it may sound, actually worked very well together.
W, who’s been to Inopia while Albert was still in residence, says that with the exception of a plethora of lipstick marks as their new trademark decor, everything still looks the same, down to the signature menu items. And based on the quality of the food while we were there, it looks like it hasn’t suffered much from Albert leaving.
The place is very popular with tourists and they don’t take reservations so turning up around opening time is a must to get a seat. On our second visit, we got there before they opened and there were already people waiting outside.
For a place that famous, it still has a very friendly, neighbourhood joint vibe with the staff and regulars joking and shouting around you.
Food-wise, it’s bite after bite after bite of deliciousness. Almost everything we had was great. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get enough of the cheese and ate the rind, which left me with one of the worst cases of food poisoning I’ve had in years.