FOOD & DRINK REVIEW

Story Social House & Jazz Bar

A hidden library in an urban jungle!

Misty Barker, Owner & Lead Food Guide,

Toro Food Tours Barcelona

 

 

4 May 2017

Let me tell you a ‘Story’ about a place hidden down a beautiful alleyway in El Born, Barcelona, where you can read a book & drink some of the best vermouth, while listening to live jazz…

I know what you are thinking, but it does exist and no it’s not Narnia.

Welcome to Story.

From the second I walked into this perfect place I loved it. If you’ve ever read my personal blog The Great Food Tales you’ll know I have a crazy passion for books, especially old books. The type that you know have changed hands through friends and family over the years and are a little bit forlorn looking. However, I have an equal love of food, wine, cava and all things tasty & interesting… as I am sure you may have guessed.

This is a bar the foodie in you will love, the child in you will be curious about and the critic within you will be overjoyed to have stumbled upon. The bar is actually a ‘library’ by license and also of course is as you would expect primarily used as a bar & restaurant. Rows of books and quirky interiors line the walls and give it a cosy and interesting vibe from the minute you enter.

Every night the bar comes alive with tourists & locals alike.

Photograph by Story Bar

Along with an original & varied menu – from ceviche to tapas boards to the much loved typical pulpo & cheese boards they serve impeccably plated dishes as beautiful to look at as they are to eat, decorated with so much detail, in some cases even miniscule edible flowers and always with a natural style & flair. Modern fusion style dishes served to perfection, cooked by very talented young chefs that take pride in what they do & it shows. My favourites are the ceviche, Gambas (obviously!) and above all their cheese board. Which is anything but dull and plated so perfectly it’s almost a shame to eat it… (not that that has ever actually stopped me believe me!)

‘Fer el vermut’ is the Catalan phrase literally meaning ‘to do the vermouth,’ though it is now a day to day saying used to convey catching a few beers or a bite to eat with friends, regardless of whether or not vermouth is actually consumed.

But, it must be said – the food doesn’t steal the show here. The owner, James, A local man, with a quite sense of calm & charm, who was born in Montreal originally, also has a certain pride, especially when it comes to the Vermouth they serve here. It is made by himself, none of the usual pre-made bottles you could find in other Barcelona bars would even be allowed through the door. And when prompted to ever tell me the secret ingredient that makes his varieties so special, it’s always followed with a resounding… ‘not today!’… I’ve a feeling there never will be ‘the day’. But that’s what makes it just that little bit more interesting. I secretly think he enjoys the fact that people want to know! (Don’t tell him I said that!)

I have never been a fan of vermouth I’ll be honest. It always seemed to me that it was just a waste of what could have been good wine! Also, I was never a fan of cloves and these are used quite commonly in home-made varieties along with other herbs & botanicals. Vermouth is a typical drink consumed throughout Barcelona and usually comes in a light (dry) or dark (sweet) version. In Story you have a choice of both! It is made through a process that involves fortifying & aromatizing the wine and adding numerous ingredients to flavour to your taste. Trends in food, drink, fashion, and art are cyclical, and the ultra-trendy vermouth phenomenon in Barcelona over the past several years is no exception. Enjoyed in the past mainly by the wealthy, but as the years progressed it became a favourite of the working class men of Barcelona. It carries over 100 years of increasing popularity, history, culture and tradition.

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Story Bar, Pou de la cadena 8, Barcelona, 08003

Photograph by Toro Food Tours

In actual fact, I am now a converted vermouth drinker! I enjoy the vermouth here so much – that I decided, I wanted to show each guest that comes on my tour where to find it at its best. On our Food & Drink Tours, ran weekly, in El Born, Barcelona, we actually visit James in his ‘library’, during which he tells all of our guests that it is indeed ‘the only library in Barcelona that you could get drunk in!’ and of course that ‘his vermouth is the best in El Born’. I think he may possibly be right. (Don’t tell him that either please!) My guests all love the welcoming atmosphere, and of course not to mention the terrific staff & famous vermouth! It has to be said that I have even managed to convince some guests who were sure they didn’t like vermouth before the tour – to appreciate & even enjoy it! Result!

The final piece to this perfect venue’s jigsaw is of course, the jazz effect. From the minute the doors open until they close, the sound of jazz legends fill the silence and create the idyllic backdrop to the bars vibe. Anna, the manager is always busy making sure each and every customer is happy and looked after – while James is never too far away making sure the bar is ticking over like a well-tuned instrument – it’s quite exceptional for a place to be as calm and collected as this in the heart of El Born, where it can sometimes seem almost manic in the majority of places & overrun with tourists, gimmicky bars & over rated offerings. To escape it all – head to the library is my advice to you!

When’s best to go? Everyday! But Wednesday nights of course are our favourite @ 19.00 – Jazz Night. Where you will see jazz groups like these play! Definitely one not to miss!

 

 

I never used to be a fan of Wednesdays. It’s that midweek slump – half way to Friday, and halfway from Monday. Almost like an in-between place – where cava seems so far away and the salads you swore you would eat since Monday have already been chucked off the morning ‘to-do’ list. That is until I discovered Wednesdays at ‘Story’. You’ll find me, very often, sat in my favourite corner high chair, with a cheeseboard close by & a glass of cava in hand… as chilled as could be – taking in the atmosphere & good vibes – while enjoying the music. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it!?

Wednesdays just got a personality!

Story can be found just a stone throw away from The Picasso Museum & Passeig Del Born. It’s the ideal venue to stop by and enjoy the early evening roll in before embarking on a night time adventure in The Born District. If you are lucky enough to be in the area – make sure to try some of their beautiful hot tapa dishes on offer that day and of course one of their signature cocktails, which truly are made with ‘love’ as the equally lovely Anna will surely tell you.

Make sure to let us know how your trip to my favourite library in Barcelona goes. Make us jealous & comment below with some mouth-watering pictures! Go on – make me hungry / thirsty! 😉

Love & Gambas,

Misty X

 

Story Bar Barcelona, Pou De La Cadena 8, Barcelona 08003

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