Friday, February 19, 2010
New to the ‘hood: Barcelona Tapas Café
Curious about its origins, I called the restaurant (504-861-9696) to request a menu and ask a few questions. Xavier, the owner, happened to answer the phone and filled me in on some facts. Apparently, Xavier had formerly owned Laurentino’s Restaurant that was tucked away in a strip mall on the corner of Transcontinental and West Esplanade Avenue in Metairie. Very recently, the building housing Laurentino’s was sold, and the new buyer intends to demolish the strip and erect a car wash in its place!
So it seemed that fate had lent a hand, forcing Xavier to move his restaurant to this Uptown locale, delighting his regular visitors and new customers alike.
Since Barcelona Tapas Café opened only a mere two weeks ago, I went into the restaurant expecting there to be little quirks that had not yet been ironed out. Surprisingly, the only setback I discovered was that they can only take cash right now, and the ATM installed in their restaurant was not yet operable. After a short ride to the bank, John and I came back to Dublin Street, cash in hand and ready to enjoy some delicious tapas.
Before long, the small plates started pouring from the kitchen at a rate John and I just barely managed to match. We quickly demolished a plate of thinly sliced Chorizo and Gouda cheese served on crunchy French bread toast points before our server brought another dish of chilled ceviche. I oohed and ahhed over the ceviche, which featured large pieces of shrimp and fish marinated in citrus juices (possibly both lemon and lime), finely chopped tomatoes and jalapeño peppers. It was so fresh and spicy! I can’t wait to go back and eat it again when the weather heats up.
We had two more hot plates to enjoy, an eggplant casserole (or samfaina) and a scallop casserole. Samfaina is a Spanish dish similar to ratatouille, prepared with onions, garlic, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini. It was very rich, flavorful and rather hearty considering it lacked any meat. The scallop casserole was very nice with perfectly cooked scallops mixed with a sherry-accented samafaina.
Finally, our server brought us the garlic tomato bread with Danish Cream Havarti and instructed us how to assemble our plate. It just looked like toasted bread with bits of raw garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, several slices of cheese and an elegant little glass carafe filled with olive oil.
Noting the server’s instruction, I gleefully set to work rubbing the raw garlic clove on the toasted bread followed by the tomatoes down to the skin. Then I drizzled the bread with olive oil and topped it with the fragrant Havarti. The experience was a lot of fun and scrumptious, too!
We rounded out our dinner with a small dessert, the Catalan Crème Brule that was the same as a regular Crème Brule, only accented with citrus and cinnamon. Like everything else that evening, it was simply delectable.
We left the new restaurant thoroughly pleased, yet anxious to return to try the many dishes we were forced to skip over. It seems to me that the dining choices in the Riverbend just keep getting better, and I couldn’t be happier having an awesome tapas restaurant so very close to home. Y’all should definitely visit the Barcelona Tapas Café, especially if you loved Laurentino’s. Xavier would be so excited to see you again!
Written by Kim Ranjbar