La Dama welcomes the most exclusive clientele of the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona. This idyllic venue is one of the city classics for more than 30 years now. Situated in the emblematic building of Casa Sayrach, La Dama represents the modern bourgeoisie of Barcelona. History, architecture and elegance: this is what Casa Sayrach breathes from the moment guests gaze the grand structure erected in Diagonal Avenue in 1918 by Manuel Sayrach, catalan architect and writer. This interesting building denotes fine curvy lines from Gaudí’s influence and a subtle elegance nowhere to be found in other restaurants in Barcelona. La Dama has no direct entrance from the street; it has been barely publicized; and it has just opened a couple of months ago.

Yet, José María Parrado, Mariana Isaza and Peter Cauro have succeeded in recovering a long lasting reputation La Dama once enjoyed. Fully renewed and exquisitely decorated to the highest standards, this venue is a reference point to demanding palates and the chiquest crowd. It is not a mere restaurant but a place where tables talk among them in a comfortable and amusing atmosphere that invites to a late drink at the stunning cocktail bar. We are guided through the magnificent entrance into the private main door where it reads “La Dama” and so the interview with Mariana and Peter begins.

Tell me the story of La Dama. 

M: La Dama was a 30 year old emblematic restaurant of the city of Barcelona. It was of great recognition and was always characterized as a place where to finely eat and where important celebrations happened.

P: A gastronomic institution for all people in the city: politicians, businessmen… it was one of the classics.

M: We found the venue being transferred and so decided to embark ourselves on the adventure with another partner, José María Parrado, which is an important hospitality businessman of the city and has two other renowned restaurants: Cañete and Terraza Martínez.

We got held of the place and we started thinking what we could do with it. It was a little gem we wanted to take advantage from all its wonderful history and architecture while giving it a new look and adapt to modern times.

P: Our priority was to maintain the structure since it is a listed building as well as a jewel of the architecture of the city. We also as partners have a slightly different view of the hospitality world and this space. It was basically an institution to recover and adapt.

 

What about the design?

 

M: The design was done by a studio managed by two girls, Cristina Mas and Cristina Carulla. The studio is called Masca and the most interesting part was that the work was very one on one.

P: They were friends of ours. Cristina Carulla was in another large study before, and Cristina Mas was an independent architect. They came together to found a studio.

M: We met a thousand times, they were 100% involved in this project so it was very easy to choose everything from the graphic and aesthetic side. Everyone brought in things, by proximity of friends or relatives. The project was always lived by their lead but we obviously collaborated because we want to feel comfortable when occupying this space since we had to be the ones defending it everyday. Always bearing in mind of course that this venue is more than a restaurant.

P: Also, we wanted to give it a cosmopolitan touch because for me what I have seen of Barcelona’s luxury is verybling bling and there is little sophistication rather than a subtle luxury. There are several places now that are changing but the idea was that a local person as well as a foreigner could fit into an elegant yet not inconspicuous restaurant with a modern air of French bistró.

And you how did you meet?

P: Her and José are best friends for many years now. And I knew that I wanted to do another project, so we met during this venture and now we’re all friends.

M: A year ago or so we were looking at a project that ultimately did not work out and in the meantime there was a good feeling among us so we kept looking for things.

 

La Dama is more than a restaurant…

P: Nowadays it is divided into two restaurants in a way. At noon the restaurant is more focused on the businessman; it is a place a little more impressive during daylight. At night it has another ambience much more open to a wider audience. It is more than a restaurant because it is not a place where you eat and immediately leave.

It is a place where you come, you sit down, there is a cocktail bar and generally during nights it lives up in a way that the tables speak among each other. We wanted to do it that way to create a sense of home. It is more of an experience to come to La Dama.

 

Sort of a networking?

P: It is not about networking but rather about having fun in a place where people feel confident. The plan is to be beside the bar so having dinner around 9:30 – 10 but then staying until 2 for example.

M: And maybe have a drink here rather than going to another place. The music turns up a little more and there is a super cool atmosphere.

 

Who is part of La Dama?

M: We are 3 partners. From there on there is a person who is responsible for the dining room called Kim, a head chef from Brazil, Bruno. It is a small family.

P: Everyone has a different role. José has a lot of experience here, he is a bit of a sponsor.

M: He has a more strategic direction and back support. Us two are more present here. I lead the gastronomic line and work on the side of the kitchen, and Peter is in charge of managing the bartender, the bar, the atmosphere… sort of a public relations: all the aesthetics, music, image… but we work very hard. We are here to ensure that people are comfortable.

What approach have you decided for the cuisine?

M: We produce a french-based gastronomy with a classical touch adapted to modern times, with seasonal product and fresh ingredients.

P: The idea was not of a gourmet restaurant but a restaurant with high quality product and being able to recover the classic cuisine: not too creative but serving exquisite food. Simple, easy elaboration and fine quality. A somewhat Frenchified bistro with Catalan touches.

How has the welcoming been so far?

M: I think we are quite happy because being La Dama a place we have not publicized in any way, that has no direct access from the street, and has such a strong history, has had an incredible reception. And usually people come back and recommend it.

We prefer to be a project that will slowly consolidate with a clientele that will gradually and organically grow. We want to have a base of local people because we believe that it is the only way of attracting interesting foreigners if this becomes a local site.

La Dama will have its grand opening the 22nd of September. If you wish to attend, let us help you arrange a perfect night with an exclusive table reservation. Enjoy a wonderful night in an emblematic restaurant of Barcelona inside Casa Sayrach. The bellhop will guide you to the interior, offer you a drink at the spectacular cocktail bar at the entrance, and then lead you to your table.

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