restaurant review: barcelona tapas lounge
Peaking out from the remains of Barbacoa and Wild Thyme in Stevenson Ranch stands the all new, privately owned and operated Barcelona Tapas Lounge. For those of you who do not know the location, it is across the parking lot from Chilis and behind Noah’s Bagels, Subway and Starbucks on The Old Road. My husband and I have often discussed that location and the challenge any owner would have given the fact that the facility is rather hidden – even the sign is hard to see from the parking lot. I do believe however, that this new restaurant is destined for great things.
The inside does not resemble either of the previous occupants. As you walk in, to the immediate left is a lounge, decorated with authentic Moroccan low-to-the-floor furniture and sectioned off by flowing drapes. Against the wall in the lounge is two panels of wine lockers, available for rent for $40 a month – most are already rented. The owner will be importing wines from around the world and make them available to the wine locker renters or you can stock your locker with your own choices.
In front of a open kitchen stands a long bar that guests can dine and watch the sauteing and grilling going on in the kitchen. I love the dozen or so tables that seem to float in the open dining room – no crowded back to back tables in here! Dimmed lighting and soft Latin music serenade the diners through their meals. Atmosphere is great!
Their liquor license just got approved so the wine list was short. We started with a nice Merlot served with a small dish of roasted almonds and marinated olives and not soon after a plate of fresh made garlic rolls. Our lovely waitress and significant other of owner Dominik Lahmidi, Melissa walked us through the menu. The selections are divided between seafood, meat, and vegetable tapas, or little plates and main dishes. We ordered the Potato Tortilla, Roasted Artichoke, Beef Brochette and Saffron Prawns.
The artichoke came out first. The artichoke was bathed in spices and grilled perfectly and was served with a balsamic mayonnaise. a href=”http://www.sceneinscv.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/martiniwood.png”>It took a few minutes for the dish to cool down so that we could pluck off the tender leaves and creamy heart and stem. Then the potato dish arrived – a perfect thin combination of spanish potato, onion and egg. Think thin omelet. The brochette, made of the tip of the filet was outstanding, not only because of the grilled Moroccan salsa that topped it but also because of the salad swimming in fresh walnuts. The final dish delighted us. Five huge homemade cheese ravioli each carrying a nice sized prawn covered with a creamy saffron sauce covered the plate. Knowing how much saffron costs, I was suprised to see flecks of saffron generously married with the perfectly smooth sauce. We finished our meal with a delicious Flan.
The portion sizes were generous, to say the least. Everything was homemade from the dressings to the sauces to the bread and pasta. We almost felt bad that we walked out of there spending a little over $60!
I got to talk to Chef Dominik at length after finishing our meal. He came right up to our table and chatted between cooking and directing his operation. He is from Morocco and was classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu in France. Previous to opening Barcelona with his brother, Chef Dominik worked at Georges Bistro in town and then several other restaurants in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. He has worked in several other countries before coming to the United States. He explained his philosophy with using fresh ingredients and no processed foods. He makes the desserts himself, part of his classical french training.
Out side on the patio, diners have the opportunity to smoke from hookah’s, or water pipes. Dominik imports a tabacco product from Egypt called Cleopatra which infuses tabacco with fruit. Choices include apple, cherry, coconut, grapes, mango, mint, peach, strawberry, sweet melon, and watermelon. We smelled the product and it smells like the fruit, not like tabacco. In fact, the product looks like dried fruit. This hookah experience costs $15 for two people and $5 for a refill. The whole idea intrigued me. Neither my husband or I smoke but I would try it once – just to see what was like. Chef Dominik told me that the hookah is very popular with his Cal Arts guests.
As many of my readers know, I am tired of the chain restaurants in the SCV. It is exciting to me that independent owned and operated restaurants are popping up. It is so important that we frequent these restaurants and help them to survive. I wish the best of everything to Barcelona. I will be coming back again soon, and bringing some friends of course.
Dawn’s newest and most successful culinary adventure is Dawn’s Dinners. Chef Dawn prepares fresh dinners for families in the Santa Clarita Valley. Chef Dawn also offers fresh frozen meals, complete with reheating instructions, ready to take home and defrost. Not only do families get healthy home-style cooked meals, but the meals are usually $25 for four people and $35 for six! Surf over to Chef Dawn’s website www.chefdawn.com where you can see what is on the menu for dinner tonight. When Chef Dawn is not cooking, which is rare, she enjoys spending time and camping with her amazing husband, four daughters, Truffles the dog and Puff and Custard, the dragons.