A coldish evening in Barcelona was perhaps not the best time to try ATN, a restaurant just off La Rambla. It was mostly empty and lacked atmosphere.
Alternatively, if you were outside on a warm day, watching the world go by, you might be so enchanted by the location that you forgive any food shortcomings. For while the food had no serious problems, it had nothing either to remember it by.
I have no idea what ATN stands for. And no one we asked seemed to know. So I used my imagination – hence the headline.
But the guide book said it was “atmospheric” with an “attractive terrace overlooking Placa de la Vila de Madrid. The book also claimed it was “creative Catalan cooking with an exotic touch”.
The terrace might have been fun but it was too cold to sit out. The décor outside was modern, and pretty soulless. The inside was much the same. Comfortable, however, surrounded by paintings for sale – we sat by someone's vision of Buster Keaton at €400.
There was an evening menu advertised outside at €25 but we were not offered it. Instead, we were handed the a la carte listing. This was in English and Spanish as well as Catalan but it was difficult to discover what the “creative cooking with an exotic touch” referred to. Perhaps that was another menu which we were not given?
Our server was pleasant and efficient – she did not have much else to do. We were given the ubiquitous tomato bread.
We chose the Chicken Salad (€8.80) and the Tuna Carpaccio (€11.10) to start with. Not cheap but decent sized portions and tasty was the verdict on both. The salad had carrot, beetroot, rocket and a good amount of meat. The tuna was served with a green, onion based, sauce.
Our main courses were Parmentier Lamb and Pork Tenderloin. Both were adequate but pricey at around €15 each. Again, hardly creative and hardly exotic. The pork was banal, it came with a lump of blue cheese on top which added little. The lamb was lots of small chops served with whole grain mustard and some vegetables. This was not one of my better choices.
It was all washed down with a bottle of L'Oratori wine – a local red from Emporda. This was strong (14 degrees), fruity and perhaps the best feature of the meal – the only one that seemed genuinely Catalan. It was a very reasonable €14.80.
We didn't bother with desserts.
By the time we were finished, it was not that late but the place was totally empty – except for one English guy who came over to talk to us, having remembered our faces from a few years back when we were stuck by snow on a train leaving London late one winter night!
Sadly for ATN, that was the most memorable aspect of the meal.
ATN has had mixed reviews. Some rave over it. Some send the food back.
Our bill came to around €65 which was hardly cheap. Probably, it's better to go for the €13.80 lunchtime menu (three courses and a drink) on a warm day when you can indulge yourself in a bit of people watching from the terrace.
Tel: 93-318 5238
Nearest metros: Liceu, Catalunya