“Mum was busy making croquetas in the pub’s kitchen when her waters broke. That was my start in bars.”
Hipster brands like BrewDog are clever and imaginative but lack a little authenticity. I prefer the visceral essence of a local bar, for local people talking local stuff.
San Antoni resident and Bar Nostalgic pub owner Toni Varon is the croqueta kid. He has run the hostelry on Carrer Vildomat for the last nine years.
The way it was
“I was literally born into the bar industry,” he said. “My family has a bodega in Sitges. The folks still run it and it looks the same. Then this place came up – it used to be a video games’ shop – and I wanted to make something that reminded my of the family business, which is still pretty much the same as when I was born.
“It was that nostalgia that gave me the idea for the name Bar Nostalgic. The sandwiches are named after streets around here, to give it a connection. It’s people from the barrio that drink here, I’ve got mainly regulars,” he explained.
What’s on offer
There is a range of tasty food, ranging from tapas to sandwiches to hot and cold aperitivos. For any expectant mums needing a final push into labour, there are a range of croquetas, too.
It’s as a barman that Toni excels.
“I love making cocktails, that’s my favourite part of the job. Ron Collins, Negronis, Dry Martini. The Brits love one called La Boomba – chocolate and brandy”.
I’ve never heard of La Boomba and La Bomba is another drink. Still, a little bit of individualism goes along way among the pumps and optics of the same worldwide brands.
But wait! What’s this? They say never trust a barman that doesn’t drink and Toni doesn’t touch booze. “I have in the past, I’ve done all the parties and so I know people come here to relax.”
So relaxed that on occasion I head to Nostalgic to cover unpaid bar tabs of my partner, The Plek.
Nostalgic always seems to be open and Toni remembers everyone’s name and poison. He also answers to anything that ends in ‘i’ (pronounced as ‘e’ in English); among our friends he’s been Dani, Toni, Chavi and occasionally Pepe.
In Spain, it’s useful to be loud and boisterous if you want to get served at a bar. In most pubs, I am Mr Invisible and struggle to get a round in – the old eyebrow raise cuts no beef here – but Toni’s always anticipates his customer’s needs.
Take a look around
Inside Nostalgic is best described as shabby chic. The tables are as narrow as the minds of the puritanical and don’t take your cat in for a swing in the toilet. In summer the small terrace is the perfect place to look for some gentle breezes with your ice-cold drink.
There’s also cava, craft beers and an unexpectedly broad wine list, assuming you didn’t know you were in the company of a barman brought up in a bodega.
So it seems our local, Bar Nostalgic, is winning the game by staying the same. “We could do with a few more tourists popping in,” Toni says, “but we live for the locals, really.”
Bar Nostalgic, Vildomat 38
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu: 12-3 / 6-12
Fri: 12-3 / 6-1.30am