There are several dishes that are iconic to Spain, and paella is one of them.
But when I think of paella, I think of a grill and a sandy beach as a huge pan of rice and seafood is cooked up for a hungry crowd. And I also associate the dish with Valencia, the coastal city where paella was created and where I ate the dish when I first visited Spain eight years ago.
So I wasn’t planning to get paella on this trip to Madrid and Barcelona. But because it was the first trip to Spain for my sister and niece, they wanted to try paella. After a lackluster paella in Madrid, my sister brought up the topic again when we made it to Barcelona.
After doing some quick research on Chowhound, we ended up at Casa Delfin, a quaint restaurant away from the tourists and the beach (where most popular restaurants for paella can be found). The restaurant is on the edge of the Barric Gothic district in an area called Born that had a residential feel.
When we arrived for lunch, we were greeted by a friendly staff and a space that was overly decorated inside, giving a feel of a French bistro and a German tavern. Turns out there was only one paella dish on the menu, so that’s what we ordered (13.50 euros 0r $17 per person).
Because the paella takes about 20 minutes to make, we ordered a starter of fried artichokes (5.50 euros or $6.95), which was fried well and served with a side sauce that reminded me of a more fluid romesco. (My sister is the deep-fried food fan, so fried artichokes found their way to our table often on this trip.)
We also had the traditional tomato bread (3.90 euros or $4.90), where a toasted piece of bread is rubbed with a fresh tomato.
When the paella finally arrived, it was an impressive display of fresh seafood, including several types of shrimp or crawfish, spotted with mussels and scallops. The server plated up the paella right at our table, and made sure that we each had a little bit of everything.
The rice had the rich flavor of chicken broth and blended well with the rest of the ingredients. It was just the right touch, reminding me of the paella I had in Valencia.
Dining at Casa Delfin really made me feel like I was dining at a favorite neighborhood spot, with a professional but friendly staff. And even though we ordered the most touristy dish, it delivered in presentation and flavor. Casa Delfin does paella well, but its kitchen gives the rest of the menu a lot of promise.
Rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
Casa Delfin, Passeig del Born, 36, Barcelona. PH: (34) 93.319.50.88. Open daily. Metro: Barceloneta or Jaume. 8% service charge.
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