Lest you think our trip to Barcelona was nothing but lollipops and rainbows, I thought I’d take the time to tell you about our worst meal of the trip. Before I get into it, I want to assure those of you who recommended this place–and several of you did–that I hold no grudges and that you weren’t alone in recommending it: we found recommendations for it in not one but two of our guidebooks. Which is why I feel the need to warn anyone headed to Barcelona to stay far, far away from this highly-touted restaurant; please, heed my warning: do not go to Le Quinze Nits.
Look, I understand why it’s popular: it’s cheap. Well, relatively cheap. Don’t ask how our meal, which consisted of two appetizers and two entrees, was 49 Euros–maybe deceptively cheap is a better way to describe it.
The restaurant is in a large square on the way to Las Ramblas, a square teeming with tourists purchasing light-up toys the way they do at Disney World. To your left, as you enter the square, you will see people in a big line: that’s the line for Le Quinze Nits.
We waited in the line and Craig was a bit worried. “I don’t have a good feeling about this,” he said, pointing out that everyone in our line was an English-speaking tourist.
The line moved quickly and we could see several men with walkie talkies directing traffic into the restaurant. This was like the Spaghetti Factory of Barcelona.
When our turn came, we asked to sit outside: they led us to a far away spot and sat us down in a desolate corner, near two tables that both added to the hilarity and the horror of the experience.
The hilarity came from a German tourist who talked like Heimlich the caterpillar in “A Bug’s Life.” His voice boomed over everyone else’s and his high-pitched falsetto and German accent were extremely entertaining. “You take the red bus to see all the sights like La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell and all the wonderful things to see,” he told the table next to him.
That table contributed to the horror of the night. There sat this American lawyer, with blonde hair, who proceeded to regale Heimlich with stories of the Obama administration and how it was ruining America. “Americans are fed up with him,” she said, loudly, like a Fox News anchor.
And I realize I shouldn’t bring politics on to a food blog, but what angered me wasn’t even that I disagreed with her–which I do–but just how loud, obnoxious and un-self-conscious she was. It’d be like sitting next to someone with loud religious views, ones opposite from yours, and hearing them denigrate your religion while you tried to eat. She made me very angry.
But don’t think that this loud woman was the reason we hated Le Quinze Nits. No, she certainly contributed to the experience, but the funny German helped aleve things on that front. We hated Le Quinze Nits for the food. For example, check out the goat cheese salad I ordered:
How would you like to be in one of the world’s great food cities, only to be served a pile of undressed greens and cold, gloppy goat cheese on top? I would’ve asked the waitress for dressing, but I pitied her as she flitted about the restaurant, catering to demanding tourists and working under the scrutiny of corrupt managers who studied her behind their walkie talkies.
Craig, on the other hand, started with a salmon carpaccio that was so stinky, so unfresh, he couldn’t eat it.
“This tastes bad,” said Craig. “I don’t want to get sick.”
My entree of duck leg with fruit was caked in layers of unmelted fat, and almost cloyingly sweet:
Craig’s fish entree was unremarkable, but mostly edible, which he was grateful for:
Still, we sat their saddened and frustrated that with only a few meals left on our trip, we’d wasted one at this tourist dump. Because in all seriousness, this place was a factory, a soulless industrial complex that feeds eager Americans unwilling to actually research the real places Barcelonans go to eat. Little do they know that one chickpea at Bar Pinotxo is worth an entire meal at Le Quinze Nits. It proves something I’ve long suspected: never eat anywhere with “nits” in the title. It’s the pits.