So I’ve been looking to expand on my regular lunch places downtown, and I found Cafe Barcelona when looking around online for a bit a few months ago. It recently opened at the end of last year, and is located in the busy downtown Granville Street Entertainment district. I initially thought that it would definitely come in handy for some late night dining, not to mention that it’s open for lunch as well.
I’d have to say I was very persistent in trying this place, and went multiple times to find it closed when the website said it should be open. After emailing a couple of times, I found out they were closed for a random occurrence, seemingly every time I was trying to go! Finally, after I received a voice mail from their staff or owner, I was told it would definitely be open in the coming week, if I wanted to stop by for a meal. Nonetheless, when my girlfriend and I tried it for what we thought would be our final attempt, it was not to be.
We had arrived at noon, and I figured there was something that had to be wrong with this. When I went back to a final email correspondence, it turns out that they are open at 12:30, and not actually noon as their website states. Hopefully they fix this soon, or else actually start opening at noon, since when I just looked now (almost a month later), it still says the incorrect opening time.
Anyway, for our absolutely final go at trying out Cafe Barcelona a few weeks ago, they were open! Hallelujah! I’d already done so many last minute back-up lunches as a result of not being able to make it to this tapas place, and as a result have tried many other restaurants along the Granville Street corridor.
We started off with a drink, even though it was the middle of a workday, just to celebrate. We both got the White Sangria, which was made with a white wine and peach liquor of some sort, topped with a couple of frozen strawberries. I’m not sure if this is the traditional way of making the beverage, but it definitely didn’t meet my expectations. It had a sharp vodka flavour almost, and I felt like I was drinking an Absolut Peach with soda. After that, we decided to just stick with water.
We then went on an ordering spree, and the two of us each ordered three dishes from the various hot and cold Tapas and Pintxos offerings on the menu.
We started off with the Boquerones en Vinagre, which were white anchovies marinated in vinegar. These (along with most of the other dishes) were served and eaten using small toothpicks in the food. These were fairly tasty and basic – but you definitely have to love the strong flavour of this fish to try this one out and enjoy it.
From there, it mostly went downhill. Another item we tried was the Croquetas, upon recommendation from our server. These were deep fried pieces of bechamel sauce with ham. I found the filling to have a bit of a doughy texture to them though, and they were fairly bland. I think that everything we ate could’ve had a bit more kick to it with some sort of additional side of hot sauce or something. Maybe that would just drown out the flavours that we were supposed to taste, but for me I would need something more to want to eat it again.
The Gambas Ajillo, or prawns with garlic and parsley, came with a couple of pieces of Crostini and we managed to eat up all of these. However, even with all that garlic, we still felt like a little something was missing. It could’ve been the parsley, because when looking in this picture and thinking back to it, I don’t think there actually was any in the dish, as the description specified.
We also tried the Galician Style Octopus (Pulpo a la Gallega), which was served with olive oil and potatoes and covered in sweet red pepper. The octopus was cooked fairly well, but again I just found this item to be somewhat boring.
The Pimentos Rellenos, or sweet red Spanish peppers stuffed with cod bechamel cream, were something that I’ve tried in a similar manner elsewhere in the past. Again, these were served with a couple of pieces of bread, but I just couldn’t get excited over using them up by dipping them in the sauce in the bowl. The cod pieces and bechamel had an unusual doughy texture and just didn’t do it for me either.
Finally, we finished off our meal with the Txaca (crab, mayonnaise, red pepper, and egg over bread, and topped with salmon roe). This wasn’t too bad, and the crab wasn’t of the imitation variety.
Overall, I think I was a hard sell during that lunch. I think it didn’t help that after the long wait and recurring failed attempts to dine at Cafe Barcelona, the food just didn’t make an impact. The price tag on our meal was also over $75 for two of us, which seemed quite high for what it was that we ate for our meal. It was one of those lunches where I was in the mood to eat something else afterward, and I think I even did once I got home. In the meantime, I will just continue to go for Spanish tapas when La Bodega is open for lunch on Fridays.
Maybe I shouldn’t bother with this type of food again next time. Does anyone disagree?
Price: $ (each dish is under $10, but they are very small plates, as they are tapas)