Due to my demanding an actual “date” with The Fiancée, we went to Barcelona in West Hartford on Saturday night. It’s tucked in the corner of a rather enclosed parking lot in West Beat center and The Fiancée had read people bellyaching about how hard it was to find, but we had no issues. It was packed. The Fiancee had made reservations online, but they didn’t have it in their book, which I thought was a bad sign. However, they brought us sangria while we were waiting, and the wait wasn’t long. It definitely scored points in my book.
We sat out on the covered patio (although we both could have sworn it wasn’t covered when we sat down…), which had nice heat lamps to keep it cozy. Our waiter was efficient and friendly, as well as helpful with the menu. We went for three tapas dishes, none of which seem to be on their online menu. The chicken liver pate with shallots and currants on toasty bread was rich and flavorful and smooth — some liver pates can be downright gross, but this was awesome, and my favorite of the three. However, the oxtail stuffed red pepper (so tender!) and octopus in a tangy olive oil, pepper and onion dish (cold) were also delicious. I’ve never had octopus that butter-like, and I’ve never had oxtail period. But, the waiter suggested it as a good match for the bottle of Malbec we ordered and he was right.
For our main dish we split their Idaho trout dish which was cooked to perfection–crispy skin and rich flavor. It came with grilled sugar snap peas and sunchokes, which we learned is really a Jerusalem artichoke, the root of a sunflower. All of it together was amazing – -not too heavy but not as light and insubstantial as some fish dishes tend to be without some weird cream or butter sauce. I just called to see what fish we ate and the girl shared that their menu changes at least a little every night, so it never gets boring!
Somewhere around dessert, our server was changed, even though our original guy was still running around. It was weird, but didn’t matter until she started being a little too pushy about the bill. I mean, come on, we still had a lot of wine left and had just gotten our dessert. Oh, dessert. Crepes filled with vanilla and caramel “stuff” topped with a light sauce and vanilla ice cream. So delicious.
Overall, a pretty awesome place. It was busy and lively, with the beautiful people of West Hartford looking like they thought they were in Greenwich or Chelsea or something. But, the music was energetic and I really appreciated the giant mural of the Coppertone baby and its bare ass on the wall on the patio.
Two and three quarter saltshakers. It would get three hands down, but losing a reservation and being a little too eager on the check knocks you down a notch.