The atmosphere at Barcelona is a little like Nada here-- see and be seen. There were several bachelorette parties, lots of couples, all of them very YP and hip. There was a blown glass art installation, and lots of miscellaneous art around. It was colorful and felt pretty trendy.
It took us a little while to get drinks when we were first seated, but our waiter-- who was excellent-- made sure to apologize and eventually just made the drinks himself (a beer and a sangria). The bar was slammed with only one bartender on duty. I don't mind a delay in service as long as it's acknowledged and the waiter makes sure that we know things are being taken care of. He and his busser were great at making sure we knew they were taking care of things. I can't say enough good things about them!
They don't really do tapas, so as a compromise we did a variety of small plates to simulate tapas, with varying amounts of success. Not all are pictured-- soup generally doesn't photograph well, for example.
First, we started off with a chilled spiced peach soup. I expected it to be a little less sweet and a little more spicy-- perhaps almost to the side of savory. Instead, it was almost syrupy, and the spice was just cinnamon. We decided that this would be quite nice in a blender with some rum and some ice, but was less great as a soup.
We also got some serrano ham, which was served atop potato salad. The serrano was great-- a little smoky and rich and complemented the pickled onions well, but the potato salad, though made of redskin potatoes, was not all that different than something served at a picnic. Great idea, but the execution wasn't quite what it could have been. This held true for the rest of the meal-- great ideas, but the follow through wasn't quite what I expected.
Our next tidbit was pork belly. Longtime readers of this blog know that I love pork belly. Probably too much, but it's just so tender and delicious. Except when it isn't. This was roasted instead of braised, and served with corn and a vanilla-espresso gastrique. The gastrique and corn were great, and the coffee and vanilla really complemented the flavor of the pork, which was very flavorful but-- and to me, this is a cardinal sin of pork belly-- dry. I'm not sure how they managed it-- perhaps it was the roasting?-- but it was almost stringy. The flavors were great, but again, the execution just fell short.
Our fourth and final appetizer was flatbread with goat cheese, caramelized onions, crab and roasted red peppers. This turned out to be incredibly similar to something I make (though I use puff pastry). The flavors were good, but it didn't seem especially inspired.
We did decide on dessert-- flan. Now this was fantastic. Beautifully plated, served with some peaches and berries, it was a standard flan, but there's a reason it is a classic. Perhaps if they stuck to the classics-- simple ingredients done well-- everything would be a hit.