We love tapas. Some of the most fun we had in Spain this year was going on a tapas crawl in Madrid. Going from bar to bar, having a glass of wine, pointing to the tapas that looks good or ordering a few slices of that incredible Jamon Iberico Negro being sliced in front of the restaurant. Have another glass of wine and more tapas then move on to another restaurant. So much fun!
Tapas restaurants in the United States aren’t quite the same. But they’re good in their own way. So, when we heard that there was a new contender in town we needed to check it out. It’s been busy since it opened its doors but Cousin L snagged a reservation and with Aunt J we were excited to see what all the hype was about.
First off, the hype is worthy. Barcelona Wine Bar is a little chain from Connecticut. But they don’t want to be known as a chain. They liken themselves to a neighborhood restaurant and ask multiple times if you’re from the “hood”.
A really good looking restaurant – 3 rooms in total; a bar (where you couldn’t get a seat), a more casual cafe where you can see what’s happening in the kitchen and a more formal white tableclothed dining room. The restaurant walls are reclaimed wood and the restaurant has a warm feel. On a Saturday night it was buzzing.
I arrived before the rest of the group and was seated by the door. I asked if we could move to a table away from the door and they happily showed me to a new table. Then as I was just getting ready to have a sip of wine I was asked if I’d like to move by the window. Nice of them to ask.
I started with a Verdejo and an order of Cabra as Romero which is a goat’s milk cheese covered in rosemary. It was served on a board with quince jam and was delicious.
Oh, and the bread? Chewy, rustic – we were sure it was from Iggy’s but were surprised when they said no, Clear Flour Bread.
So, this restaurant takes it’s wine very seriously. The wine menu is contained in a little booklet with an introduction by the wine director and what follows is 6 pages of wine, beer and mixed drinks with an impressive wine list.
After everyone arrived we settled in and took a look at the menu. The thing about tapas restaurants in the US is that they all pretty much serve the same tapas. The Patatas Brava, the chicken croquettes, the potato tortilla and the gambas al ajillo. Each restaurant has it’s own spin on a particular recipe and they each have a few different items on the menu. But it’s not so much that they all serve the same thing, it’s how they serve it and it’s the ambiance of the restaurant that makes the experience, and of course, if it tastes good!
So what was on our table? A lot! Along with the mandatory Spanish olives and Patatas Bravas was Gambas al Ajillo, Jamon and Chicken Croquettes, Spinach-Chickpea Cazuela, Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Mussels al Diablo and of course, Albondigas (meatballs) in a zesty tomato sauce. It was all good; some more than others. The one dish that left us cold was the Spinach-Chickpea Cazuela. Made with cumin it tasted more like it belonged in an Indian restaurant.
For dessert, crepes with dulce de leche, flan and cookies with a dulce de leche filling; all yummy!
If you aren’t in the mood for tapas,they serve four different paellas and, they have choices in meat, fish and mixed grill. The next time Roy and I will definitely sit at the bar but we’ll have to get there either really early or very late because there was a two hour wait by the time we left. How many times have you seen a chef passing out tapas to people while they’re waiting for a table? Barcelona does and I thought it was a nice touch.
The waitstaff was outstanding, knowledgeable, with great personalities.
My one question is why is there a picture of a bullfight on the website when bullfights have been outlawed in Barcelona? Something they should think about maybe?
So will we go back? Definitely.
See you at the bar….