Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weird, weird dining at Barcelona

Two weekends ago, AV and I were in Stamford, CT, for the first part of the weekend. On Friday night, we made our way to Barcelona, a new-ish tapas bar around town. We popped in without a reservation and were shown a table immediately. And that's when the fun began.

We were visited by one server and then another... and then another. Each one repeated questions the previous ones had already delivered. I was ravenously hungry, so when one asked whether another server had already "explained the menu" I lied and said absolutely, just so we could get to the ordering quicker. (By the way, in case you were wondering, the explanation likely would have gone something like this: "Our menu is divided into lots of little sections with lots of tiny overpriced dishes. We recommend ordering a bunch and sharing. In fact, we recommend starting with tapas and then ordering main courses and dessert. Plus drinks. We recommend spending a lot of money.") This waitress, now far from enamored with me, finally took our order and departed.

A runner brought us bread, and it must be said that the bread was quite good. It was warm and fresh and chewy and carbolicious. It came with olive oil, which AV pointed out was not as good a choice as butter for this type of bread, but my guess is it's more authentically Spanish. Or something.

Bread, the highlight

Then a runner wielding a pitcher of water came by, spied my empty water glass, and asked if I'd like more water. Uh, yes please. Later he came by and asked again if I wanted more water, and since we were paying the check, I said no, and he poured it anyway. Right.

AV and I both visited the bathroom (separately, of course) before our main courses arrived. The women's bathroom had only one stall but two sinks and a main door that didn't lock. So basically you walked into the bathroom, stood into the sink area, and listened to the poor person in the singular locked stall pee. And then awkwardly avoided each other's gaze as you shuffled into the stall when she emerged. Plus the toilet paper holder was only anchored on one side, so when you tried to rip some off, the whole roll went flying across the room. The whole experience was frustrating.

But that aside, we got our food, and it was pretty good. AV's scallops with farro succotash were perfectly cooked and flavorful, if a bit small.


My mixed salad was standard with the praiseworthy addition of some flavorful olives. One of the tomato wedges tasted a little weird, and it was plated on dishes that said "Soho Kitchen and Bar." It's also worth noting that when I ordered a salad the waitress replied, "Did you see our lobster salad?" and was about to upsell me terribly when I cut her off. Yes. It's expensive. I'm a vegetarian. For shame, Barcelona, for shame.

Standard salad, yummy olives.

After our entrees were dispatched, we didn't want dessert; we wanted the check. So we asked for the check. When AV asked the first server who passed by, she replied, "Oh, please, finish your beer," patted AV's shoulder patronizingly, and left. Does that mean we won't get our check until AV finishes his beer? We weren't sure. So we asked the next server who approached, and eventually a check arrived. The runner poured some more requested-denied-unwanted water. I nearly sprinted out of there.

So, in short, Barcelona is a weird, weird place. I don't get it. It tries to be too cute for its own good; why not stick to the one-server-per-table rule that 99% of restaurants follow with good results, or why not anchor your toilet paper holder on both sides. I don't understand. The food is okay, I guess, but it's not worth the experience. Barcelona gets two Offset Spatulas and a huge, huge question mark.

222 Summer Street, Stamford

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