When diners in Stamford want to bask in the savory flavors of Spanish cuisine, they don’t have to search far to find the best of the best. On Summer Street, affectionately referred to as “Restaurant Row,” sits Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant. Leading the charge from the kitchen to the dining room is Executive Chef Scott Quis, who makes a visit to Barcelona well worth the trip.
Barcelona is popular; it’s raucous; it’s crowded. It’s also where I was in attendance for a special tasting menu that opened my eyes to the alluring flavors that awaited within. Although we weren’t dining from the regular menu, the wonderful dishes experienced, along with the wine pairings, were an excellent way to become acquainted with Barcelona.
|Florida Red Snapper Crudo|
Six courses throughout the evening, including dessert, did their level best to suck me in and render me unconscious and in a delirious food coma. We began with Florida Red Snapper Crudo that was aromatic and velvety. The flavor was enhanced by the savory mix of cilantro, salt, mint, lime, fresh thyme and parsley.
|Cocido Soup with Pata Negra Broth|
Next, Chef Quis thrilled us with a Cocido Soup with Pata Negra Broth. Bustling with pork, onions, chickpeas, cabbage and shaved mushroom, it was a bountiful soup that was as warming and relaxing as it was hearty. No sooner was the near-empty bowl cleared from the table when it was replaced with a marvelous presentation of Wild Scottish Langoustines draped atop Bomba Rice that was an indulgent treat for three of my five senses in its enticing aroma, appearance and, finally, the amazing taste. After cleaning my plate, I wasn’t sure how Chef Quis could possibly outdo himself.
|Alba White Truffles|
When a bowl of Alba White Truffles was passed around the table, we took turns inhaling the strong, earthy, root-like aroma. It would be one of two ingredients in the very minimalist fourth course consisting of an over-easy Millstone Farm Egg topped with freshly shaved truffles. The dish wasn’t overwhelming in appearance, but once it went into my mouth, I knew that looks aren’t everything. Who knew a mere two components could come together to form such a melodious plate?
Kabocha Squash was the anchor for the Rioja Shortrib topped with Chestnuts. To a non-red meat eater who is slowly but surely reconditioning her palate to once again enjoy the carnivorous joys of life, the short ribs were phenomenal. Juicy and tender with a fully developed flavor, it is, in short, the way this cut of beef should be done.
The dessert was a mixture of hot and cold, bitter and sweet, and a creamy complexity that was too good to pass up. The Fig & Gooseberry Cazuela with Almond Vanilla Ice Cream capped the evening with a definitive “aaaahhh!”
The entire special tasting menu at Barcelona showcased the extraordinary talents of Chef Quis. The food was savory, innovative, satisfying and inspiring enough to bring me back for more.
Barcelona is open for lunch Monday-Friday 12pm – 3:30, and dinner Sunday-Thursday 5-10, Friday & Saturday open until 11:00 or 11:30, with late night menu available 30 minutes after that. Dinner price ranges: tapas $3.50-$11.50; cured meats and cheeses $6.50 for one, $17.50 for three; salads $6.50-$9.50; entrées $19.50-$26.00; ‘raciones’ $7.50-$14.50.
Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant
222 Summer Street
ON THE WEB: http://www.barcelonawinebar.com/stamford.htm