Jordi Piquer opened his popular restaurant in 1968 on an auspicious day: April 23, a holiday that honors his namesake saint. Saint Jordi must have been looking down on Piquer and his dedicated customers when the restaurateur decided to sell his establishment in 1986: three trusted employees banded together to buy it, keeping the Sant Gervasi neighborhood institution in business.
A fine example of a classic 20th-century Barcelona restaurant, Casa Jordi is decorated in the old masía (traditional Catalan farmhouse) style over two floors but adapted to urban dimensions, meaning that there are fewer intimate corners but larger, more flexible rooms with tables for groups. The space is filled with atmospheric antiques, like the 19th-century telephone on the wall, a vintage cash register and classic paintings by local artists. One room has even been decorated to look like a cabin on a ship.
Manager Francesc Casals, part of the trio that bought the restaurant, began working at Casa Jordi when he was studying economics in college, helping out at the restaurant where his father also used to work. After he finished his degree, he decided to stay on in the business as one of the younger partners who took over the place. Like him, all the kitchen employees have been working there for at least 20 years. So too do the waiters and current head chef, Francisco García, who cooked under his predecessor and learned directly from him all the secrets behind the recipes.
Casa Jordi serves market-to-table cuisine with a seasonal menu and daily specials. The food is rooted in traditional Catalan cooking, Barcelona’s classic dishes, blending the popular and rustic, simple and refined. One can see and taste as well the French influences that have been present in the city over the last couple of centuries and have become integral to local traditions, as well as fundamentally Spanish preparations and ingredients, such as exquisite Basque kokotxas (cheeks) of hake or Iberian ham from Extremadura or Huelva.
The formula here remains the same as when the restaurant first opened: no pretensions, just highly enjoyable, straightforward and excellent cooking in an old-school place with white tablecloths and warm, professional service.
The recipes and presentation, likewise, are virtually the same as they were when Casa Jordi opened, with a few minor differences (a teriyaki sauce, a basket to serve croquettes, a Kobe beef hamburger). Among the essential dishes on the menu are esqueixada (shredded salt cod with tomatoes, onions, olive oil and vinegar), the roasted vegetable dish known as escalivada, rustic cargols a la llauna (snails grilled in a tin casserole), sole and prawns al cava, duck magret à l’orange with honey and rosemary and tournedó with Café de París sauce.
The kitchen delivers on all these and more with a refined hand. The classic fricandó sauce was robust and tasty, amply flavored with Saint George mushrooms, and came with very tender, pleasingly thin veal filets. The ham croquette combines a wonderfully crunchy exterior with a creamy interior, while the local artichokes were meaty within their light, crisp tempura coat. We loved the grilled squid, which were perfectly tender and flavorful with just a touch of garlic and parsley – a prime example of how lovely simplicity can be.
The wine cellar offers plenty of mainly domestic options, and there’s also a wide selection of liquors to encourage after-dinner lingering and conversation.
Even the customers here have changed little since the 60s. Because the restaurant is located in a combined commercial and residential area, it sees many business lunches and dinners throughout the week, and on weekends, it fills with families and friends, some of whom have been coming here their entire lives.