Thursday, May 31, 2007

Early Report: BARcelona Tapas

All I can say is -- finally! Barcelona Tapas is open and they're a welcome addition downtown. Many of us havel been to dozens of these little tapas places in cities like Chicago, DC, and NYC. They're small, lively spaces with brightly colored mosaic tile table tops, pitchers of sangria, and endless menus of small plates. I didn't realize how much I'd missed a great tapas place until last night. Barcelona Tapas gets it right! Service is new and attentive. And the menu features all the classics from marinated olives to my favorite croquettes. Best of all? After all the new steak houses downtown, it was a welcome treat to see that the prices are more than reasonable. The wine list appears well thought out and at $4 a glass (or $16 a pitcher), the sangria is a treat. (They have red and white even though the menu only lists red.)

Used to regular tapas prices and portions, we were unprepared for the abundance of food! Our first dishes came out (the olives and the roasted cauliflower) in the expected sizes. But the hot and classic dishes -- priced very reasonably, we saw nothing over $7 on the menu -- are generously sized. (We had the fried artichokes in a cumin sauce, the spinach and mushroom pastries with a tangy curry aioli, and the baked goat cheese. All delicious!)

We'd planned on another dish or two and possibly dessert but decided to leave that to another night. The space is roomy with high ceilings and open-to-the-street French doors providing a surprisingly cool atmosphere on a hot, muggy day. They're not crowded yet so get in while you can. And with all the food and sangria, our bill? Only $44 for two people. Looks like BARcelona Tapas might be a refreshing treat in more than one way. Parking was easy on the street (at six p.m. or so) and they're open for lunch.

13 comments:

TV Steve said...

Glad to hear its finally open after all the delays. Indy has needed a tapas place for a long time. Going to check it out myself this weekend!

SCUBAchef said...

I've been waiting for it to open, and walk past it daily, but for those not specifically looking for it, it's still not so obvious to those passing by that it is open. They need better signage and/or the name on the awning, and some outside seating in place by now.

Oh, the sangria is pretty good, but I might have to start getting pitchers of their great Mojitos!

Joanne said...

We had the bread pudding and it was *fantastic*

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to go! I love me some good Sangria.

terrykirts said...

I also had a good experience there last night, though I can barely talk this morning after yelling over the din (they sat us right up front near the musical act for the evening). Service needs some definite training--staff swarmed about aimlessly, asking diners if they had ordered this or that, and at one point our waiter asked us to tell another server that the previous couple at our table had moved to another and to point out which table that was. But we were rewarded later with some extremely delicious and tender lamb chops. I must say that the bread pudding was more a big pile of butter-soggy bread with a little too much spice (it had a potpourri twang to it). But we ate every bite. Servings are fairly generous, though the pork skewer was pretty small, and that $4 "glass" of sangria isn't exactly a tall pour. The Caipirinha is excellent, however. The atmosphere is really something that downtown needs--and it's clearly working. It was full well past the dinner hour. I can't wait to see what will happen when some other restaurants move onto the corner.

(I also hope that in their marketing they stop pointing out what tapas is and how it "attracts the trend setting crowds." We may not have had tapas here, but it's not exactly new or trendy anymore in the larger culinary world. It's just still a good concept.)

Joanne said...

That's a bummer about the bread pudding. It sounds nothing like when we had it last weekend. We stopped by last night, too, around 8:00 and it was on a wait so we left. We also had no desire to scream over the band. WHY restaurants and bars do that to customers I'll never know. If I wanted to go to a disco, I'd go to a disco.

As far as people here not being familiar with tapas, I would say 9 out of 10 people here that I've told about the restaurant say "topless? You went to a topless restaurant?" So it seems to me lots of people here could use the education, still.

Jim said...

Agreed that they need to put up some signs. All you see right now are red awnings.

I agree that the "trend-setting people" marketing idea is a bit lame, but I don't see anything wrong in general with the restaurant trying to educate Indy-folk about tapas. I'd venture to say that many do not know what tapas are.

M. Zane Grey said...

We tried it last night (Saturday) and liked it very much. Service was friendly, speedy and accurate; the food was good and served hot, including the very tasty garlic toast.

There wasn't any musical entertainment when we were there (7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m), and noise levels weren't particularly high -- we could converse at normal speaking levels.

We managed to spend $66 for two, but we did have dessert, as well as two sangrias, a mojito, and two glasses of wine.

The hostess told us that they would have outside seating (on Ohio Street, presumably) when their permit was approved, and I suspect that they're waiting on permits for signage, too. Lack of signage sure doesn't seem to be preventing people from finding them, though!

braingirl said...

I think it's cool they serve wine-loving dogs!

almostAchef said...

Already been twice; love the fact that it's not another grill or steakhouse like all the others coming downtown. Did experience some of the fumbling staff issues, but all food came hot and in good pacing.

They do seem to have decent business...perhaps they opened in advance of signage in order to work out the service kinks before getting too busy. And I also agree that us foodies know tapas but sadly, I don't think the majority of indy residents do.

On dessert, flan was decent, but could have had a creamier texture throughout. I expect they'll continue to improve.

Anonymous said...

This is a great restaurant! I have been four times already. Some of the tapas do not taste authentic. The patatas bravas and the gazpacho were awful. The paella is phenomenal and the desserts are extremely tasty, especially tres leches and the bread pudding. The sangria is good and I was impressed with the varieties of beer that the restaurant has on tap. The music is good and it's just a lively restaurant. I've had just about everything on the menu and most of the tapas are excellent. This is a great addition to downtown. The restaurant is affordable and I do agree with the issues with the staff, but they are new. So, here in a month or so, things should start getting to normal.

Anonymous said...

Barcelona is a bar that serves OK food. Not a culinary destination. Do not be fooled by the prices ...they add up fast. NOT wortyh the money. The manager lady is not a happy person. She was either smoking a ciggarette outside or on her cell phone drinking at the bar the whole time we were there.

Ryan S said...

i heard from a co-worker that they're closing soon. Drove by last week and it still looked like business as usual.

i also have a friend going to work at the new tapas restaurant on the west side of downtown. anyone have anymore info on that place? haven't heard anything else...