June 21, 2008
The polyester patchwork jacket on their man at the front of the house says it all: "this place is so cool it hurts." It also says, "Moritz." Turns out the jacket is a fashionably-placed ad for the recently resuscitated Moritz brewery whose roots are right here in this Poble Sec neighborhood. Pondering this marketing stunt we browsed the tapas list where we ran into the Moritz logo again, this time amongst other companies' calling cards printed on the back of the menu. The bar man confirmed without so much as an eye-roll that these are Inopia's corporate sponsors. A restaurant owned by Albert Adrià, semi-famous brother of the outrageously famous Ferran, sometime El Bulli pastry chef, and force behind the success that is Cacao Sampaka needs sponsors? Memo to Bud: send them one of those back-lit revolving Clydesdale lamps -- it'd be perfect with Inopia's retro-ugly-chic decor (early Almodóvar tile walls, shrill florescents, and posters depicting tapas in the manner of those IKEA Swedish meatball come-ons). What really hurts here is what matters most: the food. Inopia serves up old-school tapas at modern-day prices, riding on the latest wave in Barcelona eating. Everywhere we went we encountered the "bomba," a breaded and fried meatball reincarnated from back-in-the day -- a big fat poke in the eye to molecular gastronomy. The twist here at Inopia is supposed to be top-quality ingredients that take barfly fare to new heights. We believed Matt Gross and Mark Bittman's praiseful reviews in the New York Times, but should have had a look at Verema where locals griped until they stopped caring altogether. Our disappointments included Inopia's too-mayonaise-y ensaladilla rusa (potato salad with tuna) and greasy alcachofas (fried artichokes, served too cold). And though we approved of Inopia's decent ham croqueta, nothing left us with the will to forge ahead with pinchos morunos (little kebabs) and other yawners on the menu. Brushing bits of wool from our eyes, we moved on -- there are plenty of real classic bars left in this town for good eats without the weird ads, bad lights, and hype. Inopia Classic Bar, C/Tamarit, 104; Tel: (+34) 93-424-5231. Open Tu-Fri 7-11pm, Sat 1-3:30pm and 7-11pm, Closed Sundays and Mondays.