So I usually resorted to the attractive, friendly theatre restaurant up the road, the wonderfully named El Glop, which gave out free olives, served delicious thin slices of duck with salad, and had good Catalan sausage with chips when something more filling was required.
Now I'm in Madrid, in a remarkably swish hotel that wasn't at all expensive (thanks to my clever travel agent). I Googled for restaurants nearby and discovered the exceptionally well reviewed La Sanabresa, just up the road. So at 8.30 (when it opens at night) I went there.
Just as well I was on time - within ten minutes it had filled up with a swarm of locals. It serves a range of menus del dia, menus of the day, at night, which didn't seem to happen in Barcelona. The one I chose had lots of options, and at 11 euro for three courses, bread and a half bottle of wine (for one - a couple gets a full bottle) it's an incredible bargain. I had the mushrooms with garlic (excellent),
the meatballs (a little bland, but still good, with chips), and a superb flan, exactly like a creme caramel only with a darker reddish sauce - maybe there was wine in there somewhere? (The colour doesn't show well here.)
I've already worked out what I think I'll have tomorrow. I'm only here for four nights, so I'm going to La Sanabresa for all of them. On my last day I may even splash out on the 16 euro menu...