Thursday, August 22, 2013

Barceloneta - Miami Spice

I've probably told you before that my family is originally from the region of Catalunya, in Spain. Even more specifically, we are from the city of Barcelona. In doing my Miami Spice research, and searching for interesting menus to try, I came across a restaurant I'd heard a lot of buzz about. Barceloneta, located at 5850B Sunset Drive, is a Spanish restaurant, offering a tapas-style experience, infused with a Catalan tradition of "Mercat" dining. Guests can either choose dishes from the menu or order specific foods by weight or by piece. The concept reminds me of a large market I love in Barcelona, right off of the famous street of Las Ramblas, called La Boqueria.

Ensalada de Alubias y Atun
When I saw what Barceloneta was about and took a look at their Miami Spice menu, I decided to make it my next adventure. We drove on over to Sunset on a Wednesday night, excited and hungry. I have to stop to say the place was packed. When I say packed, I mean packed. The-two room space has both regular tables and communal tables and they were all full. We waited a while before anyone came over to ask us how many were in our party, and when they did, we learned we'd have to wait about 25 minutes. Now on a Wednesday night, that's a pretty long wait, but the dishes that were coming out of the kitchen peeked my interest, so we figured it was worth it.

Bombas de Barceloneta
Boquerones BLT
Once we sat down, I ordered a nice refreshing Tinto de Verano and took a look at my choices for the evening. You should know that there is a minimum of two guests for ordering from the Miami Spice menu. Basically, you choose three tapas options from the First Course, three tapas from the Second Course, and then each diner gets to pick from one of two desserts. These are shared among both guests. The choices sounded pretty appealing so it took us a while to choose three out of the five they feature for each course. Our server offered to surprise us and we agreed. The unknown tends to spice things up a bit. The First Course winners were the Bombas de Barceloneta, Ensalada de Alubias y Atun, and Boquerones BLT. The Bombas de Barceloneta consisted of two spherical croquettes made with a creamy mix of tempranillo braised oxtail and potatoes. It was served with a flavorful aioli. The Ensalada de Alubias y Atun was a braised white bean and tuna salad, made with a tangy tonnato sauce, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers and black olive powder. We were split on this dish. I found it light and tasty, and my dining companion wasn't in love. The Boquerones BLT were actually two white anchovy sandwiches, with olive remoulade, bacon, romaine hearts and tomato. They were packed with flavor and the biggest portion of the three.

Sopa de Zanahoria
There was another First Course option, the Sopa de Zanahoria, or Carrot Soup, that we hadn't picked to try. My dining companion is not a soup fan but I happen to love the liquid treat. Our friendly server brought us over a sampling, insisting we were going to love it. I tell you what. It was my favorite - and my non-soup loving companion's. The Carrot Soup had a small toast inside, and was topped with coriander Chantilly that added another flavor profile to the otherwise simple dish.

Arroz con Gambas

Arroz con Gambas
Brocheta de Corvina
For the Second Course, we had the Arroz con Gambas, the Guiso de Jabali, and Brocheta de Corvina. The Arroz con Gambas was a moist calasparra rice, prepared with tiger shrimp, serrano ham and a distinct seasoning. I always love a soupy rice and this one was no exception. The Guiso de Jabali was one I was worried about because I can be a bit particular about stews. Didn't need to worry though. The wild boar stew was nicely complemented by fresh summer vegetables, and didn't last long on the plate. Finally, we tried my personal star of the evening: the Brocheta de Corvina. Two tantalizing skewers tickled the taste buds with mild, flaky corvina, zucchini, eggplant, and red onions. They sat atop a bed of shoe string potatoes that puckered my lips from first bite.

Nocilla Helado and Crema Catalana
Dessert time arrived and we shared both the mini options: the Nocilla Helado con Pica Tostas and the Crema Catalana. The Nocilla Helado was a creamy, rich Nutella ice-cream (need I say more?) sprinkled with maldon salt and olive oil. It was extremely decadent and thick and my pick of the two. The Crema Catalana was Barceloneta's take on the popular Crème Brulee-like Spanish dessert, served with mixed berries. I didn't get it though. It was lacking in texture and sweetness, and in its attempt at uniqueness completely missed the usual contrasting flavors of cream custard with hard caramel. I would choose the Nutella ice-cream hands down.

At the beginning of our meal, I was a little worried I would still be hungry after my adventure, but the truth is, I wasn't. It was a satisfying dinner. While some dishes were better than others, the variety was good, the combination of ingredients authentic and the overall experience pleasant. For more information on Barceloneta, visit their website at

Barceloneta on Urbanspoon

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