>> Friday, December 5, 2014
A couple of my friends recently returned from Spain and was telling me all about the amazing tapas they had while they were there. It has been a couple years since I visited Barcelona but I can still remember the taste of the amazing food and more so the atmosphere of the crowds all gathering in a little restaurant sampling the tapas specialty of the evening. Recently as I was wandering to the mall, I noticed that there was a new restaurant called Barcelona Tavern where the old Belgo used to be and thought to myself that I’m in luck. It seems Barcelona has come to me!
Atmosphere: Redesigned open dining area with splashes of art featured in sections of the restaurant showcasing local artists and their talent. A second floor is also available for those looking for a bit more privacy.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+
Food & Wine: With so many different options on the menu, it was really hard to decide what we wanted to try since everything sounded amazing. Luckily we were craving tapas that night so we kept our focus on the sharing menu (it was tough, our eyes kept wandering!). We ended up going down the list and ordered based on a whim. Starting with one of my favorite appetizer dishes, the Patatas Bravas, you really can’t go wrong with tiny deep fried potatoes right? These ones were served with an artichoke lemon aioli, housemade sriracha and grated duck eggs. A bit spicy and a bit savory they’re a good change from fries. Since you get the whole potato you also get a bit more of the fleshy interior making it a bit more substantial. Although they do offer fries as well if you’ve got a hankering for them.
I’m also a huge fan of Calamari, the ones served at Barcelona Tavern have a thicker batter and served with two sauces, an avocado salsa verde and a romesco - tomato based - sauce. It was nice to have the contrasting sauces especially when sharing to allow for different preferences. The salsa verde was creamier while the romesco had a slight tang, but each went well with the calamari alone or you can even mix them together for a different flavor combination.
Our last tapas plate was the Ahi Tuna Crudo recommended by our server. It was light and refreshing, a nice contrast to the other dishes we’ve had so far. The plate arrives deconstructed and is meant for the diner to put together before consuming. If you only taste one or two components of the dish alone, it will feel a bit off, make sure to get a bit of the aioli, wasabi, the soy all on top before taking a bite. I did find the wonton a bit tough and therefore stuck with the tuna crudo with just the fixings, which some might feel would be lacking the texture component, but I didn’t mind.
To ensure we had a well-rounded meal we had also tried some of the sides. The Roasted Cremini and Portobello Mushrooms were creamy, flavourful and just plain delicious. Some might find it a bit heavy, but since there was a good selection of other dishes it helped to cut through the heaviness. We also ordered the slow roasted Truffled Beets. I never would have thought of putting truffle oil on beets, but it works. Since beets are sweet and hearty, they held well against the strong pungent flavours of the truffle.
For dessert, it was hard not to order the Spanish Coffee Sticky Toffee Sticky Date Pudding. It just sounded so decadent and it was. This is definitely a dessert for those with a sweet tooth. With the salted brandy caramel, creamy kahlua gelato from Fiasco (we also added a scoop of vanilla) and the rum soaked raisins, it culminated in to big sugary bite. I would recommend trying it with a coffee, since the flavours definitely play well together.
One thing that caught my eye was the Gin & Tonic menu. It seems they’re trying to bring back the gin and yes please! I didn’t get a chance to sample their selections that evening, but I definitely made a mental note to come back and try it. With amazing drinks like Kiwi and Cucumber, Strawberry and Basil, I can see it being the start of one of those nights.
My Picks: Spanish Slammer, Roasted Mushrooms, Truffled Beets
Overall: We can always use more Latin and Spanish inspired cuisine in town and I’m really happy to see one open right in downtown. Although the delivery of the food is slightly different from the cramped quarters of the little pubs in Spain, I still love tapas and anything that is meant for sharing family style is a winner in my books.
501 8 Avenue SW