It’s early March and there’s still not much open in our L´Escala neck of the woods, Montgo. Two beachside restaurants look to be open Friday to Sunday, Oreig and Can Miquel. The latter has a low-rise 3 star hotel attached to it. We stopped off recently for a morning coffee which took ages before we got them. No surprise really if you look at their online reviews for speed of service and treatment.
Down the hill from us the modern touristic sprawl of Riells with its white-washed houses doesn’t look that exciting either. Its beachfront pedestrian promenade is eerily dormant. Just a stone’s throw away the main street Avinguda de Montgo has the usual array of retail, real-estate places, bars and restaurants, but subdued activity. Come summer it’s bustling but seems boringly uninviting right now.
If you’re seeking a slightly facer pace then you need to head for the old fishing village area, Casc Antic. It has a more varied mix of independent shops and plenty of bolt holes for a drink or snack. Wander down side streets and see where they take you. More people means a buzzier vibe especially at the weekends, as many congregate around the couple of smaller beaches here.
One such sandy oasis is La Platja where Bar Bikini sits amongst several well placed eateries, close by to a favourite of ours, Grop. Bar Bikini has a narrow corner setting, a cosy interior and a larger outdoor terrace where we sat. It’s another contender for a sundowner spot or people watching.
The bubbly waitress served us a bottle of their house white wine (16€) and we began to survey the food menu. It’s a simple mix of tapas, salads, hot and cold sandwich options which includes pastrami-which you don’t see often. So we ordered some sharing tapas plates, a goat’s cheese salad and a pastrami sandwich. All fine but not enough pastrami.
The waitress is starting to break into good English and the inevitable questions surface covering our respective lives and reasons for being here. I’ve been in bars where the grilling becomes too private for my English reservedness. I often feel like I’ve given away too many personal details. The kicker is when I’m with the kids and the talk oscillates between English, Spanish and Catalan.
Eyebrows are raised and incredulous grins become the norm. The gift of languages is a gift that keeps giving. It’s also something which would have been harder to achieve (for our kids) had we stayed in the UK. It also makes for humorous scenarios when we overhear locals talking about us-thinking we don’t understand. You should see their faces when they realise the opposite is true, and the kids’ put downs are sweet revenge.
Food consumed we´re beginning to feel the drop in temperature as evening looms, it’s time to go.
Verdict. Bar Bikini managed to satisfy our thirst and hunger, a commendable food outpost if simplicity is your bag. There are however many competing bars around which makes choosing a bit harder. I was additionally impressed by their interior lighting, long low hanging light cloches adding an original touch.