I know, it is a chain, and I tend to stay away from them as much as possible, but it is something really different in this City, and something different is always good (and it isn't a very big chain after all--just 2 locations as far as I know). Plus it is open on Mondays, and all the other places I was thinking about going were not.
This is my second visit to BARcelona (they write the name that way, it is not a typo), and my first was probably a good year ago. I wasn't blown away the first time, which was why it took me awhile to get motivated to go back. But I do appreciate the idea here, real Spanish-style tapas in this Midwestern City. Every other City in the world seems to have it, and now we do too. Tapas originated in Spain after all, so there should be lots of things to make and try.
I have to say, I am impressed by the size of the menu and the choices offered at BARcelona. They have a lot of the classic tapas like potato and cheese tortilla Espanol (more like a piece of quiche made mostly with potato), Serrano ham with manchego and these yummy, crunchy breadsticks and lots of other seafood and meats. The only repeat we had from the first time (read, the only thing worth ordering again) was the Serrano with manchego cheese. I love Serrano ham--sort of like Prosciutto, but for plain eating, much better in my opinion because it is really more flavorful. I liked taking a piece of the bread stick, layering a sliver of the cheese against it, and then wrapping the whole thing with the ham. Delish.
We also ordered the tortilla--and it is really good. It comes with a lemon which is great squeezed on top. It is room temperature and comes out fast. It is a nice, classic Spanish starch to have with the other things, particularly if you order several meat items.
We also tried the bacalao, or potato and cod cakes (more like fried balls). These were the biggest disappointment. I only had a taste and left the rest. There were so many better things, they weren't worth eating.
We had the goat cheese with bread which was basically a tomato sauce with a large hunk of goat cheese that was all heated and served with garlic bread. It was quite good, tasted like it could belong in an Italian restaurant though. Hubby LOVED it.
The little plate of mixed marinated olives were good too--a nice salty cut for some of the richness of the food. I wasn't too sure about the whole pickled garlic cloves mixed in--are you supposed to eat those? They were quite hard and I thought must be very intense---are they just for flavor? I will probably never know as I will probably never try one unless someone tells me they aren't that strong!
We had one of the day's specials too--a Spanish bouillabaisse of sorts with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scallops in a garlicky, smoky, yummy sauce. For some reason the consistency of the cooking was a bit off. The mussels and clams were really good and well cooked (meaning properly cooked, not well done). The shrimp was pretty good. The calamari was questionable--a few pieces were ok, but a lot of it was very rubbery, the worst thing that can happen to calamari. The scallops were inedible they were so rubbery. It all must have been cooked the same amount of time, which you just can't really do with that many types of seafood. That broth though, WOW! If they just did a mussel and clam dish in that broth, it would be perfect! And sadly, I scanned the menu and I didn't see anything cooked in that sauce. It's a shame.
Our server was really nice and the food comes out fast, as it is finished in the kitchen (as tapas should be). So you generally get the cold and room temperature stuff first, and so on. The nice thing about tapas, you can share several and then if you want more, just order some more. Or if one is not so good (i.e. cod cakes) you don't feel like your whole meal is ruined. It was also quite crowded for a Monday which is nice--and the atmosphere is really like a tapas place you might find in Europe. We had wine, but the margaritas looked quite good as well.
We also had dessert--bread pudding with a caramel sauce. It was as good as it sounded. Rich and large enough to share with at least one other person, if not more.
All in all, we'll be back. And this time sooner I think than the last time.
BARcelona Tapas Restaurant
201 N. Delaware