I don’t know how long it really took to turn part of the amusement arcade in Ramsgate Harbour Parade into a Wine and Tapas Bar, but as a casual observer The Bench just seemed to appear out of nowhere. One day the building was an empty shell, then the next day we spotted what I can only describe as an army of tradesmen and a couple of days later there was a new dining destination in Ramsgate. It was an impressive feat.
The Bench is certainly different and it’s serious about Wine. Currently there are about 40 plus wines to try. From the wall of Wine Dispensers you can buy Wine in 3 measures – a taster, a half glass or a full glass, it’s a fabulous way to try out different Wines. You get an electronic loyalty card to put money on, then you use the card to operate the Wine Dispensers, basically it’s self service Wine. There is a bar too so you do have the human touch if you want Beer, Spirits or Cocktails. To accompany the Wine you have a good selection of Tapas. We ordered six Tapas dishes between two, including classics like Potato Bravas and Spanish Omelette. We also had a really lovely and incredibly light Manchego Cheese Tart. We tried two fish dishes and one meat one. The Dorada (Sea Bream with crisp Serrano Ham, tomato and borlotti bean cassoulet) and Pescado Piperade (Red and Yellow Pepper Fricasee with fresh caught fish of the day and a dill and tarragon dressing) showed that there was some pretty sophisticated cooking going on in the kitchen. The Chef is described as Michelin trained.
The place is quite large so it will be interesting to see how the Kitchen and Front of House cope when it gets busy. Although the self service nature of the Wine service should help.
The Bench Wine and Tapas Bar is a real asset for Ramsgate. It’s well worth a visit, although the costs will mount up as its certainly easy to get carried away and try lots of different wines. I have my Bench Wine Loyalty Card now so I’m all set for the next time.
The Bench is open 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays they will be open until 2:00 a.m. There is lots of outside seating and they also have Wine Tastings every second Wednesday Evening.
Apparently “the luxury consumer’s desire to climb skyward is most strongly felt in dense, heavily populated urban metropolises”. I can not disagree with that, so when you get the right weather, it’s good to find a venue with a view. Here are a couple of our favourite Roof Top Bars in the urban metropolis that is Barcelona.
The Majestic – Gourmet Bar
The Majestics pool bar has stunning views, it is a beautiful location, however it does have a few negatives :-
Drinks are expensive and served in plastic glasses!
The drink selection is limited
The staff seem more concerned with keeping the place tidy than serving customers.
No idea on the food front as nothing offered on the menu that we could see, just rather plain crisps delivered with our drinks.
Here is a short video:-
The Claris Hotel – La Terraza del Claris
Views from the Claris Hotel are not as good as the Majestic, but the bar service and food choices are a lot better. It’s a more laid back venue. The prices here are also very expensive so prepare to nurse that drink and make the most of the view.
For reliability and good value for money, Tram Tram has always been a real winner. It pulled out all the stops on our most recent visit however. The weather was so good, rather that sit in the small room at the front of the restaurant we were taken through the restaurant, past the attractive private dinning room into the courtyard. It was just lovely, the food was also among one of the highlights of our trip.
So glad we returned this time as it reinforced my belief that Tram Tram is somewhere very special.
Cuines Santa Caterina is housed in the Mercat Santa Caterina , it is great for an informal lunch. You can not book, so get there as soon as you can after it opens at 1:00 to guarantee getting a seat.
They have an English version of their menu, which is worth asking for as the menu layout is a bit odd.
It is probably a bit more expensive than a lot of the lunch options in Barcelona, but it’s all about quality and they deliver on that with fresh market ingredients.
It is part of the Grupo Tragaluz who really know the restaurant business. The other restaurants in the group are always good standbys, and their flag ship Michelin stared restaurant Moo in the Hotel Omm is well worth a visit, for both food and people watching.
Tram Tram is situated in the lovely Sarrià area of Barcelona. Take the FGC to Sarrià (Nuria exit), it just takes 10 mins on an air conditioned train from Pl Catalunya to get to Sarrià.
See video of the square in Sarria :-
We had been trying to get to Tram Tram for a number of years but it was always closed when we passed. From its name we expected it to be a casual walk in venue. Much to my surprise when we did get a booking, it was a much more up market affair.
It has several dinning areas, a small room at the front, a larger room at the back, a private room and a small courtyard. The food is of a high standard and the service is efficient and friendly. That same year we visited the 3 Michelin Star Sant Pau and I can tell you that I actually enjoyed my meal more here.
It has now become a regular venue for us. If it wasn’t for the competition from Cinc Sentits and Comerc 24 this year then this would be my number one in Barcelona. No Michelin star….just a hidden gem. It’s also superb value for money.
El Jardí is not the easiest place to find, it is in the grounds of the Hospital de la Santa Creu/next to the Massana Art school in El Raval.
It’s an open air bar that does pretty basic meals/snacks. It is popular with students, but be warned the area around it can be a bit edgy .
See video of Buskers at El Jardi from a few years ago:-
We started chilling out here when it was little more than a few tables and a portable loo. Its grown up a bit since then. You may need to wait for a table when its busy, but it’s worth a short wait, table turn around is not too bad.
Barcelona has so many fabulous restaurants, but like many cities it also has lots that should be avoided. On our first visit many years ago now, we did no research and basically just went to places that were convenient and looked OK. We have long since learned how dangerous that approach is. So if you are visiting Barcelona, here are a few recommendations to get you started.