The restaurant Cal Xim in Sant Pau d’Ordal is known for its skills at the grill. Top-notch skills. A lot of thought goes into these charcoal-grilled delicacies, as well as taste, care and passion for great food. “We do everything with a lot of love,” says Santi Amigó, who, along with his brother, owns the restaurant his parents opened 43 years ago.
They opened in the 1970s with the goal of becoming a popular local bar. They succeeded. At first they served breakfast and sandwiches, quickly becoming the neighborhood meeting spot. People played dominos and cards and watched football. Exactly what you’d expect from a local bar. The local bar, in fact. Ten years later, after Santi completed his military service, the brothers took over. “My brother inherited the grill from our father, and I got the front of house.” He remembers the day his father handed over his waiter’s pad and pen. “He told me to stick with the dining room, because it suited me well. I’ve always been good with people, and I love talking to customers.” He’s kept going ever since. They’ve maintained their regulars, but he acknowledges that they “see more and more new faces, and we’re happy about that. It means we’re doing things right and that word-of-mouth really works. It’s the best advertising.”
The food does not disappoint. All ingredients are locally sourced and top-quality. “For over 30 years, we’ve worked with the same suppliers of rabbit, meat and snails.” A sure sign that no change is needed. “Our food isn’t sophisticated. Down-to-earth, honest and unpretentious dishes and recipes. Artichokes are one of our specialties. With olive oil and salt. They don’t need anything else.” At Cal Xim, the menu always features seasonal ingredients. Artichokes, zucchini blossoms, fresh salmon, peaches. Whatever happens to be in season. “Our food is straightforward and healthy.” They don’t say it, but they always have an off-menu item available. The service is very friendly—it almost feels familial. In fact, Santi reveals that in some cases he has served four generations of the same family. “Our customers really feel at home here. I grew up in a bar, and I’m friends with most of my customers.”
The menu is varied. The brothers serve a generous daily lunch menu for €20. Dinner is only served on Fridays and Saturdays, and on weekends, they don’t offer set menus, instead focusing on à la carte options like charcoal-grilled milt or their pork-trotter hamburger. One of their celebrated dishes.
The restaurant has changed little over the years. In 1996, they added what is now a private dining room and their wine cellar, which is home to over 100 wines, most of them from the Penedès. The list wouldn’t be complete without Jean Leon. “Jean Leon’s Cabernet is among the best in the Penedès. The same is true for the Chardonnay and the Gran Reserva. It isn’t easy to find such high-quality wines,” says Santi.
In addition to the quality of the wines, there is a story, a close relationship that unites Cal Xim and Jean Leon. We’ll tell you more about that in a couple of weeks. It’s worth the wait, we promise. In the meantime, come out to Sant Pau d’Ordal. Cal Xim awaits. Remember to call ahead and book a table! 😉