‘El 4 Gats’ provided a home to the Modernist art movement in Barcelona. Pere Romeu who performed at ‘Le Chat Noir’, a successful cabaret joint in late 19th century Paris, decided that he wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the Parisian restaurant in Barcelona. ‘El 4 Gats’ was born and opened on 12th June 1897 in the current building, designed by the architects Puig and Cadafalch. Pere Romeu was determined that the restaurant would become a meeting point for the avant-garde - bohemian conversationalists and artisans. His desire came to fruition and over the years a variety of poets, musicians, architects, painters and designers have passed through the door. Indeed, in 1899, a young Picasso began to frequent ‘El 4 Gats’ and later held his first exhibition in the restaurant. Despite differing widely in terms of their artistic preferences, Picasso shared his love of the restaurant with another notable Barcelona resident, Gaudi.
The restaurant staff may appear rather brusque and unwelcoming as they sort the wheat from the chaff on arrival by grilling guests on precisely what their victual intentions are before sitting them down. It’s a bit like meeting the prospective in-laws for the first time. Those of serious intent, in other words those who have come for ‘cena’ rather than a mere snackette, are ushered through the café bar/ cerveseria into the rear dining room, which is galleried, in more ways than one. The head waiter must be stickler for organisation as you are seated at rotationally-ordered tables around the dining room. You can almost countdown, using the emptying tables as your clock, to the next staff changeover.
The restaurant menu covers a range of traditional Catalan fare accompanied by a good selection of wines which emerge from the wine racks holding up the diners on the mezzanine floor above. The service is reasonable but do check your bill as three tables were overcharged at the time of my last visit. No doubt genuine mistakes, but rather a lot of mix ups for one sitting.
At the front of house, the café bar bustles with locals and tourists alike dipping their churros into hot chocolate or sampling one of the beers available on the extensive drink’s list. It’s fun to nose around the whole place and see if you can spot a masterpiece, although most are now reproductions…better still you could sketch your own and see if the barman will accept it in lieu of a few Euros.
Carrer de Montsiò 3 bis
Telephone: 933 024 140
Opening times: 1pm-1am everyday
Nearest Metro: Catalunya
Three course meal (incl. wine) for two people: €90
Tips: Live music a regular feature