What a little gem of a place. From the minute we walked through the door and were greeted and seated I felt I was back in Barcelona. The atmosphere was perfect.. Dim lighting, Spanish music softly playing in the background.. Perfect. It was busy too.. Every table full downstairs and most of upstairs. Pretty good for a Thursday evening I would say. I can see why Cafe Caltalan is busy now after tasting the tapas!
We decided we would each choose one of the three specials on the board and then pick another dish each to start. Our waitress recommended three to four dishes per person but on my experience I prefer to start on two to three each and then order more if you wish. It’s that kind of food..
The Fideua with king prawns. Not truely authentic but yummy. The prawns were particularly good.
The John Dory was a highlight. Absolutely delicious.
The pimentos were bitter and sweet at the same time with a spicy paprika and tomato sauce.
Each dish came out when it was ready so you don’t get bombarded with dishes on the table. It’s quite nice because you forget what you ordered and then a little surprise pops up with the next visit from the waitress!
I would like to add that the calamari was wonderful. Cooked to perfection and crispy. So good! I judge a place on their calamari. If it’s on the menu then I have to have it! It is my absolute favourite thing. This calamari has to take the prize for calamari tasted over the last few weeks in various establishments. The batter was light, crispy and it was seasoned to perfection. I didn’t want it to end!
Steve particularly liked the anchovies. They were very juicy and tasted of the sea!
We had saved a little space for dessert.. It’s rare that I have room but I thought that “fried milk” was too intriguing to pass up! I knew I would like it though.. The flavours and textures were reminiscent of good old fashioned British bread and butter pudding. The warmth from the chilli syrup came through subtly. It was divine!
A nice touch at the end of our meal was when the chef came out to chat to us. He asked what we enjoyed particularly and if we found anything we didn’t enjoy so much. We gave our feedback which was very positive.. I expect he can learn from his diners what works and what doesn’t then tweek for future menus.
I can’t recommend Cafe Catalan enough. A truely authentic tapas experience only stones throw from Exeter’s city centre. It was highly recommended to me by a friend and now I’ve had the Cafe Catalan experience myself I will be recommending it on to all my friends. Word of mouth and recommendation I think is such a good way of building a great reputation. I can’t wait for my return visit!