Casa Joan: Unbroken Tradition with a Taste of Today

Gastronomy

26/05/2017

Their challenge was to carry on the old owners’ long tradition. To take up the baton of the high-quality service customers were used to, many of whom have been loyal for years. A huge challenge, but also one that served as great motivation. For the past two and a half years, Ivan Batlle, Raúl Castellanos, and Montse Jubany have been running the restaurant Casa Joan, located just in front of the train station in Vilafranca del Penedès. This an enduring restaurant: traditional, high quality, and with a loyal, well-established clientèle.

Little has changed – that wasn’t their idea when they arrived. Quite the opposite. The employees are the same, although the kitchen has been adapted to the new culinary age. Raúl makes sure of this. He studied cooking in Mexico, but he wanted to supplement his studies in Spain. So, he spent time training in kitchens around Toledo and Madrid, until he decided to go try his luck in Àreu, a town in the Catalan Pyrenees close to the border with France and Andorra. He chose Hotel Vallferrera, an iconic establishment in the region run by Montse Jubany, where Ivan Batlle had been working for over 16 years. Raúl, Montse, and Ivan made – and still make – a great team. The opportunity arose for them to manage Casa Joan and they didn’t even think twice. It was an exciting challenge. They divvied out the jobs and got down to work, Raúl and Ivan in Vilafranca and Montse in Áreu.

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Two and a half years after they arrived, the menu at Casa Joan still has hints of tradition. They have kept five of the star dishes: seafood-stuffed cabbage au gratin; penne au gratin; Spanish omelet with potatoes, vegetables, and meat; roast beef, and Burgundy butter. These five dishes are musts on the menu, as is fresh, seasonal produce – it’s the cornerstone of the restaurant’s cuisine, especially produce from the sea. When preparing this produce, they handle it very little. A good fried garlic and chili sauce or a good baking in the oven with local vegetables means you can never go wrong with a dish at Casa Joan. “At the moment, the customers haven’t noticed the change, which means we’re doing things right,” acknowledges Ivan. The general feeling from customers is that “we’re still eating just as well at Casa Joan,” notes Raúl, who adds that “it’s a daily job. We can’t let our guard down.

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Customers can choose between an á la carte menu or a €30 tasting menu (not including drinks). The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch as well as for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. This is a key point: They’re open in the evening. It’s the main difference from the old owners, who didn’t open their doors at night. “That’s the hardest part. People aren’t used to having Casa Joan as a dinner option, so our aim is for them to have us in mind more and more.

As for the beverages, Casa Joan treats the wines with the same respect as its dishes, offering a very wide-ranging wine list with over 120 options. The majority (85{483e5444ab9fc06e19ac83efe1d2198bc64dd97b6326f9ee3936c7b95b1cf489}) come from the Penedès region. “We’re in the land of wines, and we like to offer local products,” explains Ivan. These products include Jean Leon Vinya Le Havre, 3055 Chardonnay, and soon X-15. To Ivan, Jean Leon wines “are for us a source of trust and security. They’re wines that never fail and the customers love them.”

To an equally promising future!

Categorías: Gastronomy