Sunday, March 28, 2010

Downtown: Barrio Tapas Lounge

Barrio Tapas Lounge ("Barrio") is an amazing little bit of ethnic food in downtown Columbus.

Barrio is owned by the same duo of Due Amici (see previous post of hatred), but Barrio is a total 180.

Set in the heart of downtown Columbus, Barrio is actually in an old Wendy's building.  and you would never imagine that you were in an old Wendy's.  Seriously.  The renovation was beautifully done.  Deep wood, dim lights, great windows that open up to let in the nice evening air, and an upstairs seating area that would be perfect for small parties.

I headed out to Barrio with my dear friend Fancy Pants,who is also a lover of all things edible.  Fancy Pants never visited Barrio, so we picked one of the first real spring evenings of Columbus to partake in some tapas plates (don't worry, it snowed 3 days later). It also happened to be a Tuesday, and Barrio has a two-for-one tapas special on Tuesday nights.  Also, I had purchased a coupon from Fudha which Fancy Pants and I learned couldn't be used in conjunction with the tapas deal, but for a separate item. Duh, paella!

When we sat down, we were greeted with a loaf of bread and two dipping sauces. A yummy, sweet butter and an oil sauce.  Fancy Pants noted that there were hints of smoked paprika in the oil sauce.

For table bread, it is pretty tasty.

Fancy and I ordered 4 tapas plates next, and an order of paella to follow. We ordered the calamari, bacon wrapped dates, fries, and crab and corn empanadas. 

Whenever you go to a restaurant in Columbus, the calamari is usually deep fried, with some sort of dipping sauce (sometimes Asian flavored, Lindey's has a delicious remoulade).  However, Barrio's calamari might as well have been renamed "calamari soup;" in a broth, with mushrooms and some other vegetables, and calamari pieces.

It was alright.  I think Fancy Pants and I both agreed that the sauce could have been thicker. Or, it could have been billed as a soup so hopes of actual pieces of calamari you can grab with your hand and not worry about spilling on your shirt.

Fries: they might as well have been called crack.  Seriously.

Barrio's fries are in a delicious parmesan-spice-blend with this dipping  sauce that is drinkable.  I don't know how they ended up being so damn tasty but they are.  We seriously cleaned our vat of fries, and I even had to ask for extra sauce because I ran out.

Bacon wrapped dates: dates are the fruit of the gods, and well, bacon? How to qualify bacon? The versitile,  all meal mystery meat.  Here, the dates are wrapped in thick slabs of bacon, with a sweet sauce on the outside and filled with cabrales cheese.  I feel that they perhaps are the best thing on the menu next to the paella, but they may have been a little too sweet for Fancy Pants:

The empanadas are pretty good.  A fancy version of the hot pocket.  We ordered the crab and corn empanada, and it comes with a nice sized side of guacamole.  Perhaps the guacamole can double as an additional dipping sauce for the fries?

Also, on Wednesday nights (I think) Barrio does an 8 empanada for  $12 deal.

Now: the big bang deal.  The paella.

I think every nonenglishspeaking country has a form of a rice dish.  In India we have biriyani.  Paella is Spain's, and Barrio does it very well.  Barrio's paella is a mixed paella: calasparra rice, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, calamari, clams, piquillo peppers, beautifully colored by saffon.    There are even peas in the paella, which is a nice complement.  Even though we gulled like gluttons with the tapas plates, we cleaned the dish with the paella. And, it's also delish with the fries:

CONCLUSION:  Barrio has a lot of recession friendly deals out there.  2 for 1 tapas, 8 for $12 empanadas, and $2 tacos on Thursdays.  It is a place to try foods that you definitely don't get at mainstream restaurants, and it is a cool vibe and a great place to go with friends.

Also, stay tuned for a very special double blog experience with myself and Fancy Pants.  A blending of the world. Internets Glory!

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