Review By: Stefanie Parks –
Paella is one of my favorite foods, so when we decided we we’re going to Barcelona, I immediately started to research the best paella in the city. The place that kept popping up was Set Portes. One person even went as far as to call it “the godfather of paella.” Reading that description pretty much did it for me, and I decided to make a reservation.
The restaurant is right outside of El Borne (the historic district), which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Barcelona. I know that it can be a little confusing though, so Dave and I decided to go check it out during the day to make sure we knew exactly how to find it. After a few wrong turns and a few [pathetic] attempts to ask for directions in Spanish, we finally found the restaurant. We looked at the menu and took a peek inside and both realized that it was a little fancier than either of us may have really wanted. Even though I had done a lot of research and read good things, the only thing that really excited us on the menu was the paella. I figured that we could probably walk into any restaurant in the area (or in all of Barcelona for that matter) and get a great paella, so I told Dave that we could find somewhere else if he wanted. For some reason though, he was dead set on keeping our reservation, which is very unlike him (he’s all about finding the best place possible and never has a problem switching plans if we find something better).
Well, it turns out that the reason he was so into keeping our original plans was that he was planning on proposing to me that night on the way to the restaurant! We walked in and the hostess immediately knew who we were and led us to “the best table in the house.” Before we even had a chance to open our menus, they brought out a bottle of champagne for us (thanks mom and dad!).
We knew we were getting paella and we decided on the “Rich Man’s Paella,” which is described as “paella invented for the wealthy but lazy gourmet. All the ingredients are shelled, boned, and ready to eat. May include chicken, pork, cuttlefish, lobster, prawns, etc.” We also decided on the Fideua, which is a sort of paella made with noodles, and then the large asparagus with three sauces.
The asparagus came out first and was actually white asparagus (which amazingly I’ve never had before). The asparagus was ok, the sauces were ok, but this dish was definitely not worth $13. Then, they brought out our paella and fideua. Again, they both were good, but not better than any paella that I’ve had and I definitely wouldn’t call it the “godfather of paella.” Both of these dishes were very tasty, the meat and seafood were good, and I enjoyed them, but overall I felt that it tasted like paella I could really get anywhere.
But, I do have to say that I will always love this restaurant because it’s where we got engaged and it’s an amazing place to celebrate a special occasion. The atmosphere was definitely a little fancier than we normally would have chosen, but they literally made us feel like celebrities (after dinner they brought out roses and dessert that my parents had ordered for us as well and the entire restaurant stood up and applauded us!) and it was perfect for our engagement night.