Atlanta, Georgia — on a cool evening in February, a rag-tag group of adventurers, in need of a brief and safe COVID respite, desired tapas. The destination? The outside patio at the Inman Park location of Barcelona near downtown.
This part of Inman Park, in its current incarnation, is a youthful and trendy area of the city with a centralized commercial strip consisting of numerous restaurants with residential living built around and on top of the shops and parking garages. it smacks of new money, whether real and imagined 👀. The Beltline borders this area and was a block away from our restaurant.
Barcelona is a vibe, and serves food in the manner of its namesake city — small Spanish inspired tapas dishes that seem miniscule on their own, but together form a hearty, satisfying meal. Jean Georges alumnus Executive Chef Adam Esser‘s menu is tantalizing, and we sampled a variety of the fare:
Patatas Bravas (Salsa Brava, Garlic Aioli)
Gambas Al Ajillo (Guindilla Pepper, Olive Oil, Garlic)
Grilled Pulpo (Green Romesco, Fingerling Potatoes)
Scallops (Creamy Cauliflower, Pepitas)
Spiced Beef Empanada (Red Pepper Sauce)
Jamon & Manchego Croquetas (Garlic Aioli)
Chorizo W/ Sweet & Sour Figs (Balsamic Reduction)
Grilled Hangar Steak (Truffle Vinaigrette)
Albondigas (Spiced Meatballs in Ham-Tomato Sauce)
Basque Burnt Cheesecake (Luxardo Cherries)
Hirsch Small Batch Reserve for the drink — neat, of course.
My undeniable favorites from our sampling of the menu were the Chorizo, Hangar Steak, Pulpo (octopus), and Gambas (shrimp) close behind. I thought it a strange choice to pair figs with chorizo in a balsamic reduction. However, it works absurdly well–the shock to the taste buds is delightful! The sour/sweet mixture and the savory earthiness of the chorizo combine for a bit of mouth magic. My other fave, the Grilled Hangar Steak, looks demure in both amount and substance, but the seared-in flavor matched with the Truffle Vinaigrette makes you forget that you’re getting slivers of meat.
The service we received was excellent; our waiter was patient, attentive and followed up with relative expediency. If I measure part of my service experiences by whether I have to ask for a water refill or not, this came close to top-notch stealth.
Overall, I give the Inman Park Barcelona high marks for flavor, atmosphere, and service!
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