Restaurant Review: Barcelona
In case you don't know it, Barcelona is not just another pretty patio. No, that German Village institution rightly famed for its elegant outdoor dining setup is also one of our better restaurants - with prices to match. But I'm here to report that if you're willing to venture out on a Monday, then you can have your tapas and eat them too - at half price!
Yes, bargain munchers, on Monday nights, Barcelona is actually cheap! Because considering most of their little dishes cost about $6 to $7 (and none is over $10) before the price slashing, you're getting them for a song.
And a lovely song is exactly what greeted me on a recent dreary Monday evening, as a highly accomplished player was strumming in a lilting Spanish guitar mode. His tunes set the perfect romantic mood for one of the most romantic dining rooms in town.
Of course, there's the German Village brickwork, but also colorful seashell-like glass, terra-cotta painted walls, a lavish bar with ornately carved wood, local artist paintings and an overall compelling setting.
And on that wintry night, there were lots of good-looking smarties taking advantage of the discounted tapas - the place was packed. Like me, the people were staring at a 300-deep wine list while nibbling on strikingly cheap snacks - which, by the way, can easily add up to a very filling meal.
I started off with the spiced olives ($2.50). A biggish bowl held a nice mix of good black and green olives bearing an olive-oil sheen and a lively seasoning of fennel seed, paprika, rosemary and chili flakes.
The chickpea hummus ($4) is always a winner here, too. Stiff, rich and cuminy, a bounteous serving of it came encircled by a colorful ring of veggie dipping sticks and with grilled crenellated flatbread.
The misleadingly named Jamon Serrano ($4) was basically an eggy potato salad made with red onion and mayo. A few salty slices of prosciutto-like ham saddled the spuddy stuff, which received further relief from richness from its wisps of tart pickled onions.
The served-cold Roasted Mushroom and Herb salad ($3.50) was a mound of mushrooms dotted with goat cheese and just enough oil and herbs to bring out the full 'shroom flavors.
Adventurous types should reach out for the wonderful Grilled Baby Octopus "Bravas" ($3.50). Tender and meaty, those big-headed critters bore a great grilled char and a perfect touch of garlic.
Alcachofas Fritas ($3.50) were golden artichoke fritters - a huge plateful of them - that came with a tzatziki-like sauce and a sauce made memorable by its smoked paprika.
If you want to make an evening to remember out of an otherwise blah and blue Monday, check out Barcelona's half-priced tapas.
263 E. Whittier St., German Village