This past Wednesday was date night for Eric and I and I wanted to try this new hidden gem in Inman Park. First time dining at Barcelona and loved it. I tried the Chorizo and Fig tapas and the Potatas Bravas and they were both so GOOD!!!! This place is awesome, a total hidden gem. Our server Jeb was clearly happy to be there, and clearly trusted his judgment of our dishes of choice. While the tapas sampler is a great option, especially for a group, we opted for the extra tempting entrees!
As a champion of local independents, I would have been more than willing to write it off, but Barcelona’s broad menu of exquisite tapas and sharable plates, and especially its love letter of a wine list are hard to resist—though. This is the first Southeast location of a seven-unit, Connecticut-based operation that launched in 1995. Owners Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer began with a thirty-eight-seat wine bar and graduated to swank, roomy restaurants whose designs incorporate reclaimed commercial materials. And what aesthetic could be more appropriate for Atlanta, where industrial-chic began moving past trendiness a decade ago and blossomed into the city’s signature style.
The food was mouthwatering, but what really made the experience was the service. Our waiter, Jeb, was fun, gave great recommendations and was VERY knowledgeable of the food and drink menu. When it comes to wine their selection is huge and tasteful. We could find no flaws in the house sangria (especially after a half carafe of the boozy concoction. It’s a fun place to be, upbeat and energetic, with an eclectic crowd and good food (try the fried cabbage) but most of all, the service and hospitality blew my mind. Its gritty, scruffy grain doesn’t so much evoke a cozy cabin as it does a bygone cotton mill (perhaps fitting, since Cabbagetown, a half mile away, once housed such a factory). Oversized images of pop culture icons—Sophia Loren drawing on a cigarette with a come-hither gaze, John Lennon striking one of his unshackled poses, Jack Nicholson milking his “Here’s Johnny” moment in “The Shining”—bring to mind America’s and Europe’s heady creative spurts in the sixties and seventies.
The adjoining dining room and on the patio, where a massive fireplace roared and rows of space heaters gleamed red, the throngs seemed more diverse in gender and race, but the age range remained steady. Perhaps on our second visit we’ll chose to sit outside with the propane heaters and big fireplace it appeared quite cozy.
If I’ve barely mentioned the food up to this point, there’s a reason: The fifty-six-item menu—including tapas, raciones (sized between starters and entrees), “a la plancha” plates (griddled proteins and vegetables), salads, and mains—overwhelms the kitchen. . Look to the simplest dishes. Start with tapas like potato tortilla (Spain’s classic omelet), roasted garlic bulbs yielding soft cloves, albóndigas (fluffy meatballs slaked with tomato sauce), and sauteed shrimp perfumed with garlic and sherry. I love how the dusky nuttiness of cumin permeates the spinach-chickpea casserole; it reminds me of a North Indian saag. Hearty hunks of chorizo bring welcome kick to caldo verde, the brothy Portuguese stew with kale, potato, and turnip.
Grilled lamb chops, a regular presence among the frequently rotating raciones, have enough meaty oomph to satiate on their own, but a side of romesco (a chunky sauce of roasted peppers, nuts, and garlic) adds intriguing layers of pleasant savory tastes The one entree that sings in my memory is a signature of Barcelona restaurants: the crisp-skinned half chicken resting in a tangy pool of lemon juice and white wine interspersed with cherry peppers for an occasional fiery pop.
We definitely plan on going back!
240 N. Highland Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30307