Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Jewel of Connecticut's SoNo: Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar

Take one innovative Egyptian-born Executive Chef, a SoNo restaurant that evokes the eloquent flavors, feel and authenticity of Spain, and a world-class wine selection and you have only one place: the original Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar. Located on N. Main Street in trendy South Norwalk, Executive Chef Eyhab “Happy” Hatab and his extraordinary menu is at the helm of Barcelona.

With over 200 wine labels from Spain, California, Italy, France, Australia and many other regions, Barcelona’s wine list is extensive enough to satisfy the most discriminating of wine connoisseurs.

 A special six course tasting menu for the evening provided the vehicle that took our taste buds on a culinary voyage. We began with a medley of house cured meats, including Lamb “Serrano Style” topped with a smoky Kirby cucumber, Duck Basturma with wild grapes, Cava-cured Veal Loin and Beech Mushrooms, and Duck Lardo under a bit of Kale. “Double White” Wheat Beer from the Southampton Brewing Company complemented the meats without overpowering the delicate flavors.

Galantine of Guinea Hen with Arugula Salad and Grape Mostarda headed up the second course. Encased in a ring of skin, the medallions were stripped of all pretense and were filled with luscious flavor. This was accompanied by a 2009 Hondarribi Zuri, Ulacia – Getariako Txakolina, Spain, a marvelously tart white varietal with slight effervescence poured with a flourish.

The third course consisted of duck, duck, goose: Duck Confit with Butternut Squash, Duck Crackling with homemade concord Jam, and House-Cured Fois Gras Paté. The duck confit nestled inside the butternut squash created a smooth and velvety dish. Topped with the absurdly delicious crispy crackling, the entire plate’s contents disappeared in no time. A 2009 Chenin Blanc, Bourillon Dorléans, Demi-Sec from Vouvray, France was served with the dish.

Duck Confit w/Butternut Squash, Duck Crackling and House-Cured Foi Gras Pate
Rounding out the fourth and fifth courses were the Porcelet a la Plancha Belly (Pork Belly) with a smoky, fragrant aroma that filled my nostrils and 28-day House-Aged Ribeye with Acorn Squash, Chorizo, Radish and Autumn-Spiced Malt Syrup. The savory flavors of the pork belly lingered long after the last bite and the juices of the tender ribeye exploded wonderfully in the mouth.

House-Aged Ribeye with Acorn Squash, Chorizo, Radish and Autumn-Spiced Malt Syrup

When dessert rolled around, I wasn’t sure if another bite could find its way into my mouth but, ever the trooper, I forged ahead. The creamy Warm Caña de Cabra (double cream goat’s milk cheese) with fungus along the outer shell was accompanied by Pickled Gooseberries and drizzled with Millstone Farm Honey. The creamy center of the pungent cheese, coupled with Casa de Santa Eufemia 10 Year Tawny Port, formed the perfect cap on a wonderful culinary evening.

The night came to an end much too soon. While my stomach protested ever so slightly at stretching its confines, I nonetheless craved more, more, and still more. Barcelona in SoNo is one of those venerable places that you place on your ‘favorites’ list. And like so many other discerning diners in and around Norwalk, it’s now on my list.

Barcelona is open for dinner Monday-Sunday 5-1, Friday & Saturday until 2 a.m. 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 $19.00-$27.50; ‘raciones’ $11.50-$13.50.

Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar
63.65 N. Main Street
S. Norwalk, CT  

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