Think of Blavis in the Sant Gervasi neighborhood as the restaurant equivalent of the iconic Fiat 500 or Mini – perfect for a crowded city and charmingly so. Even though there are only two regular members of staff, this tiny spot packs a powerful punch. Chef and co-owner Marc Casademunt crafts tapas-style plates influenced by local and international cuisines, which are then served by Paco, the friendly waiter.
When Marc and his partner, Sonia Devesa, opened the small restaurant in 2008, the financial crisis informed their initial concept: offering an affordable daily lunch menu for workers. In the beginning, they only opened for dinner two nights per week. Yet a number of factors, ranging from the advice of a friend to the arrival of their children, made them reconsider their formula. They decided to shrink their hours even more – they are now only open for dinner – with a greater variety of more creative and smaller plates to taste and share. It’s a more suitable concept for such an intimate setting.
“Working in a tiny space is hard and a challenge,” Marc tells us. “But it has its advantages too, everything is closer and communication is more direct and easier.” The new Blavis was reborn with the surname “Racó Gastronòmic,” or “Gastronomic Corner.”
After studying at the prestigious Hofmann School, a culinary and hotel school in Barcelona, Marc worked at Mugaritz, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Basque Country, and Tapas 24, one of the several restaurants owned by the famous Barcelona chef Carles Abellán, among other local spots. All this knowledge and expertise is now condensed into the dishes at Blavis. Sonia used to oversee service, but since becoming a mother she has moved to restaurant management, and the room has become the stage of Paco Pérez Ventura, one of Marc’s former colleagues and currently the face and voice of Blavis.
“We are conscious that people love dining in a tiny restaurant.”
There are just two seatings a night, one at 7 p.m. and the other at 9 p.m. The first is quite early for locals, as many of them are still working at that time. So the 7 p.m. seating attracts more foreigners, who are often pleased to find an open restaurant, while the second is predominantly made up of locals.
Marc’s food is made to entertain and bring a sense of fun to the meal. He achieves this by serving his own takes on local recipes as well as international dishes, like the perfectly marinated Mexican cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork), one their must-tries, which is served over totopos (tortilla chips). But maybe one of his best-known plates is the Mediterranean eggplant carpaccio with goat cheese, where the eggplant slices are marinated in olive oil, garlic, oregano, bay leaves and Modena vinegar, then served with a tomato jam and a sauce made of reduced Modena vinegar, which emphasizes the eggplant’s flavor while adding a sweet touch.
On a recent visit, we also loved the more seasonal trinxat, a dish that is part of the traditional Catalan mountain cuisine. The classic recipe is trinxat de la Cerdanya, from a region in the Catalan Pyrenees, which features a mix of creamy mashed potatoes, cabbage and pieces of crispy bacon or small pieces of pork. Here, Marc combines the traditional trinxat with a fried egg and aromatic mushrooms, adding to the heartiness of the dish.
The tortilla donostiarra is another great dish – this cod omelet with Basque origins is perfectly creamy inside. You’ll also see the occasional Scandinavian dish on the menu, such as smoked salmon, marinated herring, or Flæskesteg, roast pork with crackling, since Marc’s mother is Danish.
The whole Blavis experience is as amusing as it is tasty. Better to go in small groups, or even on your own, and always try to make a reservation in advance. As Marc says, “We are conscious that people love dining in a tiny restaurant. Sometimes clients end up talking with people from other tables. You may like it or not, but it is a experience.”