Barcelona, owned by Spaniard Jordi Donadeu, former head chef at Neighbourhood Brewbar, is the newest spot to get tapas in Auckland. So new, in fact, that when we visited on their third night open there were a few first week wobbles, but there were some pretty top notch aspects too. Taxi, take a bus or walk, but for your own sanity do not try and find a park near Barcelona on a Saturday night like we did. I love most things about Kingsland, but I really do not love the serious lack of packing spaces.
The space is long and narrow, giving most tables a view of the busy kitchen where you can see chefs, including Donadeu, hard at work. There is a bar that you can sit at in typical Barca-style, chatting to your neighbours while you pick at small plates. The wine menu is fairly extensive and totally suitable for a Spanish joint; I had a glass of the 2011 Carlos Serres Crianza, a really lovely Tempranillo that I hadn't tried before. Estrella, Spain's iconic cerveza, is of course on tap.
The dishes came out one at a time but in quick succession, apart from the Andalusian Calamares (deep fried calamari) that unfortunately didn't come out at all. We tried a range of tapas - the Patatas Bravas, Iberico ham with tomato bread, leek and mushroom croquetas and the Amanida, which was a salad of beetroot, fennel, grapefruit and tamarillo dressing.
I'll start with my least favourite dish, the Patatas Bravas. Although the little cubes of potato weren't greasy they weren't that crunchy either, and unless you got a piece smothered in garlic mayonnaise and spicy paprika tomato sauce, they were a bit under-seasoned and bland. The croquetas were very tasty - the ultimate comfort food with a crunchy coating and creamy béchamel filling. The Iberico ham with tomato bread was just how you'd find it in Spain. The tomato bread sang of summer but could have been lifted with a rub of garlic and sprinkling of salt, but the ham was chewy, translucent and marbled, and cut thin enough that a whole plate was easy to devour. The Amanida was fresh and full of flavour, with a good hit of vinegar in the dressing. This might be common knowledge, but beetroot, grapefruit and Iberico ham is a flavour match made in heaven.
It was tricky choosing between the churros and Creme Catalana for dessert, but unfortunately I think we made the wrong choice. The Creme Catalana was a bit slow to our table, and we found it to be slightly gritty and flavourless. Should we go again I will be giving the little glass of churros, sitting in warm chocolate sauce a go. We were left feeling full but not uncomfortable, and without a big dent in the wallet.