Barceloneta, The Trendy Local’s Hotspot
A & I
BARCELONETA, SUNSET HARBOUR
Helmed by Chef Juliana Gonzalez, Barceloneta is one of those elusive venues that you’ll only know about, and hang out in, if you’re part of the Miami ‘in’ crowd. Discreet in its presence as opposed to the likes of restaurants on Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive, the venue is the epitome of social coolness. So if you’re feeling you need to give your self-image a bit of a boost, by hanging out in the presence of fashionable and beautiful people, Barceloneta is the place to do just that.
Joining the effortlessly styled locals of Sunset Harbour for a late lunch, our repertoire of dishes included: Croquetas de Iberico, Pan con Tomate, Arroz Negro con Calamar, Patatas Bravas, and Calamares a la Romana.
With the grand floor to ceiling windows creating a natural flow between the dining area, terrace and lounge, the tapas swiftly arrived one after the other. The Calamares a la Romana was the first to make its presence on the table. Chef Gonzalez coats the squid with a light batter and partners the calamari with a ramekin of allioli, darkened by squid ink, which makes for a very amusing and clever creation.
Next to arrive was the Patatas Bravas, true to the essence of the restaurant’s name, with their interpretation being an elevated version of the traditional Spanish dish. It came with an addictive, gravy like tomato sauce and allioli, that had a spice and slight kick.
The service was really good. Without hesitation, our waitress enlightened us with what she thought would suit us and ordering was very smooth. The servers were attentive, yet not intrusive. It’s as though the waiters could pre-empt if you had a question before you’d have to deal with the burden of lifting your head up like a meerkat and having a browse of the restaurant trying to gain eye contact. Thank goodness for that to be honest, it’s not my best look.
The Croquetas de Iberico were precisely how croquettes should be, a thin and crispy outer batter with a hot creamy thick sauce emerging from the centre once you take your first bite. The whipped inside gave me flash blacks of the rich fondue sauces you’d pig-out on in the Alps. They had a beer like essence.
Many of the dishes are aptly presented under the title Tapas y Raciones, as snacking is exactly what you do. It’s one of those places where you’ll turn up, order a glass of wine or a G+T and one or two dishes to share, whilst the Spanish music serenades you. As the night draws on, you’ll order a few more of each, and so on (leading you on to become slightly merry of course). And the menu is set at a very reasonable price, so the bill won’t be an eye sore, especially when it is split between a group of you.
The bread in the Pan con Tomato had a crisp crust which was nicely juxtaposed by the soft, sweetness of the crumb. It had a refreshing lightness and didn’t make the bread soggy at all. No word of a lie, it even had my friend who is pretty much anti-tomato anything, scoffing down Chef Juliana Gonzalez’s tomato bread, she said she just couldn’t help herself.
Peering round the restaurant I noticed that those dining on the communal tables and hanging out in the terrace lounge have a fashion that is just as tasteful as the tapas. My focus was swiftly diverted though with the arrival of the Arroz Negro con Calamar. It was beautifully presented and Chef Gonzalez used her trick of squid ink again to blacken the creamy calasparra rice. It held a lot of delicious flavour and is a very heavy dish, where you can taste the quality with each bite. A nice touch would have been a side of bread to slice through the richness.
Putting it simply, Barceloneta is one of those places where the spice infused flavors will encapsulate you just as much as the locals.
Arroz Negro con Calamar
Pan con Tomate