Thursday, October 17, 2013

FRESH FLAVORS RULE THE TABLE at LA TAVOLA



It could be a trattoria in any small village in Umbria or even in the Maremma region of Tuscany, but it isn’t, your sitting in the trendy Virginia-Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta at La Tavola. This is the Fifth Group’s take on casual Italian dining with all of the romantic ambiance, cozy character, and deliciousness that one would find if in Italy.  The word trattoria is derived from the Italian word trattarsi, which means, “to treat ones self”, and at La Tavola its all about treating ones self to a dining experience that’s indulges the senses with pleasure.  The bustling kitchen is headed up by Executive Chef Brent Banda, whose passion is to make foods with bustling bright flavors. After a few bites, it becomes quite apparent that Chef Banda’s hallmark is all about letting the freshness of the ingredients to control the recipe and do they ever.

Italian foods are meant to go with Italian wines and vice-a-versa, and in Italy it’s an integral part of life’s daily ritual. Since most Italian wines have high acidity, they are prone to get the mouth salivating while cleansing the palate and preparing the taste buds for the next bite, what a fun way to have a meal. The wine list at La Tavola consists of mostly small production wines from Italy’s renowned vinicultural regions and is grouped based on the fullness of the wine’s character; explore the diversity of Italian wines with their outstanding wine by the glass program. If the thirst yearns for a more mystical play with wine, I strongly recommend the Angelina, I Adore You - a flute of Ca Furlan’s Prosecco with a splash of Aperol that’s garnished with a sliver of orange peel, this potion is all about enticing a little bit of love and oh-so more.

For a starter where simplicity drives the palate wild, order the Mozzarella Burrata and treasure the taste of a old world Italy. This handmade creamy treat is from Vermont’s Maplebrook Farm. What makes this burrata so amazing is how Chef Banda takes this time-honored luscious cheese that’s filled with fresh cream and stracciatelli (shreds of mozzarella), and marries it with tangy marinated cucumbers, fresh basil, and Calabrian chili oil putting a wow into sexy.  For a different, but equally mouth-tingling thrill try the Braised Artichoke Salad - tender chunks of artichoke that are given a hefty uplift with a lemon vinaigrette and 18 month old Parmigianino that are served over a bed of baby arugula leaves – yum!   These will surely to have the taste buds wanting more, and at La Tavola more is a good thing.

If you think you had the best pasta this city has to offer, wait until you try Chef Banda’s interpretations on pasta. To make great pasta is a labor of love, but to taste that love is breathtaking.  The Ricotta Rabbit gnocchi is simply a mind blow of rich robust flavors– the rabbit is braised for a few hours and made into a zesty ragu with fresh garlic and a tomato passata.  The gnocchi is finished with fresh marjoram and grated Pecorino Romano giving these silky dumplings a mouth-watering appeal.  Of all the pasta offerings, at least on one visit to La Tavola, the Squid Ink Linguine with Calamari and Thai Basil Pesto is a must. Fresh squid from Rhode Island are tossed with a lively Thai basil pesto, Calabria chili peppers and the most succulent long velvety noodles that one could ever want to taste. Go on Mondays, aka Molto Mondays, to treat yourself to a sampling of pastas for only $10.

Of the more classic Italian dishes, the Saltimbocca alla Romana is astonishing in every detail. Its name translates rightfully to “jump in the mouth”, and after the first bite one can understand why.  To reach this level of succulence, one must use quality veal, aged-prosciutto, and sage that’s garden fresh to do this recipe proud - at La Tavola the kitchen hits the bull’s-eye plus some. The dish that reminded me of sitting in a trattoria overlooking the fishing village of Orbetello is the Zuppa di Pesce. Fresh cherrystone clams, Georgia white shrimp, tender bits of calamari, chunks of the fish of the day (tilefish) that are all bathing in a scrumptious tomato-lobster brodetto; make sure to ask for some extra grilled bread otherwise you may be tempted to use a straw to get the last drops of this otherworldly broth – it’s OMG good.

Besides the thrilling pastas and breath taking entrees, La Tavola has an amazing dessert list that will make any sweet tooth perk up. Pastry Chef Hilary Irvine takes traditional Italian recipes and incorporates her own unique spin. Either the luscious vanilla bean or dark chocolate Semifreddo custards, or the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with fresh huckleberries are perfect ways to bring closure to all of the deliciousness at La Tavola.  So when that yearning to taste fresh foods in their full glory the way it’s done throughout the kitchens of Italy, La Tavola has a table waiting for you.  

Amicizie e maccheroni, sono meglio caldi.

LGTG FRIENDLY *****                                                                                          
FOOD *****                                                                         
PRICE *****                                                                         
AMBIENCE *****                                                       
DRINKS ****



WHERE WOMEN COME OUT | WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |  www.labrysatl.com


La Tavola Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MAR SPLASHES INTO DECATUR WITH ITS MEXICAN COASTAL FLAIR


When one door closes, another seems opens.  This happened recently when Teri Rogers decided to close Feast, one of the early ground breaking eateries in Decatur.  The door that opened is MAR, co-owned by international restaurateur Humberto Bermudez and local Decaturite Michele Dehaven. MAR with its coastal Mexican food offerings is a welcome addition to Decatur’s emerging identity as a fine dining destination.  The menu focuses on fresh seafood that is prepared in minimalist style as it is in many of coastal villages along the Yucatan. Heading up the kitchen is Executive Chef Joey Zelinka (Sound Table, 4th & Swift, Café Circa) whose simplistic approach to cooking allows foods to retain their true identity instead of being masked with heavy sauces and spices. Don’t get me wrong; the foods have that distinctive Latin flair but the main ingredient is always front and center which is often not the case at other like restaurants.

With the recent resurgence of tequila, especially small batch bottlings, mixologists are becoming more adventuresome in their creations.  MAR’s beverage team has taken advantage of this trend by creating some intriguing cocktails using quality tequilas and mezcals from its extensive selection.  To taste the classic characteristics of high-end tequila try the El Vocho, it’s an instant thrill - a shot of the award winning Milagro Silver that’s served with a cool chaser made of fresh pineapple, mint, and jalapeño. If this doesn’t liven ones spirits, I don’t know what will.  My favorite is the La Flor made with the biodynamically farmed mezcal Fidencio Clasico known for its alluring smokiness that’s derived from roasted agave hearts, which are only harvested during a new moon.  It’s mixed with a housemade sour, cucumber rock syrup, a splash of St. Germain, and a touch of basil – be forewarned, this potion is somewhat addicting.

While sipping on the libation of choice, start the nibbling with the crispy housemade chips and salsa that has a mesmerizing smoky character that makes munching hard to stop.  To keep that smoky mouth feel thing going, the smoked Swordfish Tostada is a nice follow-up to the chips. Before the fish is smoked with hickory wood, it’s brined for 12 hours giving it a unique tenderness that’s uncommon in swordfish. This highly aromatic fish is finished with a delectable saffron coconut cream, spicy black bean salsa, and tangy pickled red onions - yum!  The other starter that is a must is the empanada.  This offering doesn’t quite fit into the MAR’s seafood theme, but it is oh-so good. A light yet crispy dough is stuffed with a velvety Foie Gras and pickled cabbage that has been deep-fried in duck fat and topped with a sassy mango peach sauce.  The cold bar offering that is a “not to be missed” is the Pickled Oysters.  Plump gulf oysters are pickled in a red wine solution for 24 hours and topped with Fresno chili peppers and red onion. This dish is the perfect match for the Summer Fling – Herradura silver tequila with ginger rock syrup, lime and mint.

When it’s time to take the palate for a tango, consider one of the imaginative, well-constructed tacos. The Arrachera taco is a juicy skirt steak that’s marinated in a soy, Worcestershire, and Tecate beer mixture that’s given a nice char. This flavorful tender meat is folded into a soft shell tortilla with nopal cactus (prickly pear), cilantro, parsley and a tangy ancho chili-allspice vinaigrette.  Then there’s the Shrimp and Bacon taco, and you know everything tastes better with bacon - grilled local shrimp and crispy Beeler’s bacon served on a tortilla with a dab of a creamy avocado aioli. MAR’s signature taco is the Lobster JoeyZ.  A crispy shell made with Maseca corn flour and squid ink is stuffed with poached lobster, a cotija-mornay sauce, and a frisee-roasted corn salad – this taco is amazing in every way and shows Chef Joey’s creativity. There are a number of large plate items on the menu worthy of sharing with your tablemates.  The Spicy Tuna Steak is an ahi grade tuna loin that’s seasoned with pasilla powder, black sesame, and toasted coriander and seared to perfection.  This beautifully prepared tuna is served with a mouth pleasing papaya coulis and fresh slices of avocado.  Then there’s the exhilarating yet sassy Tequila Shrimp - large heads-on shrimp sautéed in a Jimador Reposado tequila, limejuice, and garlic.  This mouth-watering shrimp interpretation is as good as it gets.

There is no dessert menu of sorts –no worries here, as there is an assortment of the most delectable cupcakes made by the Cupcake Queen. These baked mounds of ecstasy were inspired by Chef Joey’s menu. There are six different yet diverse cupcakes to try.  If available the Patron Key Lime, Mango Jalapeño, and the Fireball Whiskey Red Velvet are all musts - just get one of each, you won’t regret it.  When in need for a meal with swagger, MAR has all of the goods to ease the day into that relaxing coastal feel except one- the beach, but with its open-air patio and a thirst quenching MARgarita, you will surely get there.  ENJOY!


LGTG FRIENDLY *****                   
FOOD ****                                            
PRICE *****                                   
 AMBIENCE ****        
DRINKS ****


WHERE WOMEN COME OUT | WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |  www.labrysatl.com


MAR on Urbanspoon
  Mar Coastal on Foodio54

Friday, August 9, 2013

SPICE UP YOUR CULINARY LIFE at BHOJANIC


Who doesn’t love home cooking, especially when the foods are tasty, distinctive and quite memorable.  Executive Chef and Owner Archna Becker brings her family’s amazing recipes to life every day at her two Bhojanic locations – Decatur and Buckhead.  The only difference between the two locations is in the interior design; Decatur is a bit more rustic – the original location near Emory- as compared to the alluring décor of Buckhead, which opened March 2013.  No matter which place, both are all about the foods which are mind-boggling in every way driving the senses insanely wild from the first whiff of curry that fills the air to the final bite that makes one think about doing lunch at one of the Bhojanics the next day.  The cooking style that Archna has incorporated into her foods comes from the State of Punjab in Northwestern India, which is known for their robust savory flavors. 

Located at the Around Lenox Shopping Complex, Bhojanic fits in nicely with Buckhead’s resurging culinary landscape with its vibrant patio, live music, and of course their menu. To equal the flair of the foods coming from Archna’s kitchens, Bhojanic’s beverage team has created some tantalizing cocktails. Highly recommend the Ginger Smack, rightfully named for its muddled Serrano peppers and ginger that’s infused with a housemade lemonade and Bombay Sapphire gin.  Then there’s the ultra-refreshing Bombay Kheera made with muddled cucumber and cilantro, a splash of Midori, coconut water, lemonade, and Bombay East gin that’s infused with lemongrass and peppercorns. In addition to the exhilarating sippers, Bhojanic has assembled a spot-on beer list that highlights artesian-crafted beers with flavor profiles that varies from bold to mild.  The malty, hoppy, bitter character of the brews adds a heightened distinction to these highly seasoned foods that are already intriguing Don’t overlook the Houblon Chouffe – this Indian Pale Ale is simply astonishing.

There is nothing boring or tasteless about the food offerings on Bhojanic’s menu, no matter the choice you will hit a “six” (cricket’s analogy to a home run).   All of the foods are meant to be shared giving diners the opportunity to try different dishes that offer something uniquely diverse.  The Alu Tikki is two potato patties that are deep fried adding a crispy crunch that’s not in anyway greasy, and topped with a sassy chickpea curry, fresh mint, and a drizzle of tamarind chutney creating at least the first wow of the evening.  Don’t miss the popular Indian snack food, Chicken 65, which is chicken tenderloin that’s marinated in a spiced yogurt and sautéed with mustard seed, curry leaves, and thinly sliced jalapeños, and finished with a dash of lemon juice – a total yum.  In addition to the small plate offerings, there are some Chaat or street food offerings that makes the eating experience at Bhojanic both fun and personal, in other words finger foods.  The puffed rounds that are mouth poppers known as Pani Puri are tapped opened and filled with a potato, chickpea mixture that’s quite spicy, not hot, and then topped with a splash of tangy mint water- what an explosion of mouth-filling sensual flavors. 

Of the larger offerings consider one of the Byriani of the day.  These one-dish meals are considered the “Dish of Kings” known for their rich contrasting flavors and aromatic seasonings.  Rice is infused with various Indian spices including cardamom and saffron, then layered with vegetables or meat such as lamb; once assembled the dish is sprinkled with rose oil giving it a lushness that words can not describe. The Scallop Curry is pure ecstasy on a plate; if this item isn’t on the menu, still ask for it.  This otherworldly offering of scallops is like none other. Large fresh opulent U-10 scallops are sautéed in ghee (clarified butter) with tomato, garlic, and an onion curry and served with a rice pullao, papardam, and raita - absolutely delicious in every way. If this isn’t enough there are the Thalis selections, a complete and satisfying meal with the likes of a chicken masala or curry and a choice of vegetables, highly recommend the Saag Paneer- creamed spinach and cheese – or the Alu Bengan – eggplant and onion in a rich garlic, tomato masala, no matter what you choose it will be unforgettable.

To bring this culinary fantasy back to earth, do not miss the traditional Indian desserts, especially Rus Malai- cheese dumplings in a delectable saffron cream sauce, or the Daal Halwa- cooked lentils and butter with a perfect dash of spices and sugar - either brings the meal to a gentle closure.  When tired of going to burger joints, or to one of the farm-to-table crazed eateries, Bhojanic has the right pep in all of its foods that will have you wondering why you have waited so long to taste food this good.

LGTG FRIENDLY *****                   
FOOD *****                                            
PRICE *****                                   
 AMBIENCE ****        
DRINKS ****


WHERE WOMEN COME OUT | WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |  www.labrysatl.com


Bhojanic on Urbanspoon

Bhojanic on Foodio54

Thursday, July 4, 2013

LPC - WHEN A MAKEOVER GOES RIGHT



In the restaurant business it take more than good food to become successful, especially in this city.  Case in point; take the highly respected rock-star chef, Bruce Logue, known for creative Italian cuisine and because of poor marketing, a dismal atmosphere, and lack of identity in a 
section of the city that loves identity, his restaurant La Pietra Cucina fails.  Enter into the picture Bob Amick and Todd Rushing and the rest of the Concentrics’ team to do a complete overhaul 
with a total re-design of the space and  re-branding La Pietra Cucina as LPC with a much 
simpler Nuevo-Italian menu.  Prior to the makeover Chef Logue decided to leave to pursue other interest; his shoes needed to be filled with someone that could build upon the new LPC concept 
and make it flourish.  Chef Russell Kook was tapped to take over the kitchen bringing with him 
his multitude of fine dining experiences from his time in Vegas, Chicago, and as runner-up on Season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Kook has created a thrilling value driven menu that doesn’t sacrifice quality filling a void in the part of the city that’s nestled between Buckhead and 
Midtown, near the Art Center Complex.

A well-selected wine list has been assembled that highlights most of the growing regions and varietals coming from Italy giving diners an opportunity to sample little known high quality Italian wines that might be otherwise over-looked.  If bubbles are your desire, consider the non-vintage Prosecco Rose from infamous Bisol Estate, this sparkler has lots of personality and offers lush floral aromas and has an amazing long dry finish.  From the same region, Veneto, the Pieropan Soave Classico is full of fresh citrus flavors, and its zingy acidity beckons food of depth and character, and LPC has many to choose from. The list of wines to explore goes on and on, so have fun finding your favorites. Besides the wines, LPC offers an assortment of high-octane cocktails, which are made with various Italian liqueurs which on their own have unique and dramatic taste sensations, but to be a key part of a well made cocktail makes for some sensational sippers 
- recommend LPC’s take on the classic Negroni, or the Medici’s Influx made with a housemade Meyer lemon lemoncello, both are darn easy to enjoy.

Chef Kook’s menu offerings are ideal to be shared amongst the table. Suggest starting with a few of the Spuntini or Snacks to jump-start the tastebuds.  The Fiorello Peppers with pickled feta and the Todd’s Meatballs are both got to haves.  The charred peppers with their subtle smoky flavors and sweet spiciness 
(not hotness), and the veal meatballs on a bed of Anson Mill’s polenta with a hardy pomodoro sauce, both will surely get the appetite going - guaranteed! Of the Antipasti selections, the Pan Fried Octopus and the Buffalo Mozzarella are simply instant gratification on a plate.  The ultra-tender octopus is a not be missed.  After braising in a red wine, the octopus is pan-fried until slightly crisp and is served with grilled frisee and a savory arrabitata sauce. The Buffalo Mozzarella 
Salad with its preserved lemon vinaigrette is astonishing. It has lively mouth feel with its tart and creamy textures; throw in some blanched fava beans and 
crispy Nueske’s Applewood bacon and you have the makings of a culinary ecstasy. 

Even though there are some delectable large plates like the pan-fried Scottish Salmon or the Grilled Springer Mountain Chicken, at LPC the stars of the menu 
are the artistically prepared pasta dishes.  Each of these recipes has an obvious freshness, balance, quality ingredients that play off and complement each 
other, and most importantly the feel of kitchen love. The Squid Ink Spaghetti’s flair comes from the perfect marriage of blue crab with a sea urchin butter, grapefruit, mint and Serrano pepper. - seems a bit odd but it works – the result is a pasta with a mouth pleasing punch. The otherworldly Agnolotti is a ravioli-like pasta stuffed with a creamy goat cheese and grilled cherry tomatoes that’s drizzled with a tomato brodo, the clear water from roma tomatoes, this dish is all 
about depth and flavor intensity. The Carbonara is one of LPC’s signature dishes – linguini noodles that’s tossed with a housemade pancetta, percorino grand 
cru and a raw duck egg yolk, this is Italian comfort food at its best but with a lot of wow factor.

When its time to awaken the sweet tooth, either the oh-so decadent Chocolate Budino with its warm gooey center or the Pistachio Semifreddo with a burnt 
orange caramel sauce will do the job, suggest getting both a do the sharing thing, you’ll be grateful that you did.  So when the mood strikes for some distinctive Nuevo-Italian food that’s both pleasing to the palate as well as the wallet, LPC has a seat waiting for you, sit outside on the patio and enjoy the ambience of outdoor dining. Buon appetito!


LGTG FRIENDLY ****                   
FOOD *****                                            
PRICE *****                                   
 AMBIENCE ****        
DRINKS ****


WHERE WOMEN COME OUT | WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |  www.labrysatl.com


LPC on Urbanspoon

  La Pietra Cucina on Foodio54

Saturday, April 27, 2013

KICK BACK INTO A FRIENDLY COMFORT of SOHO


Roll back the clock to 1997.  It was the year that DVD players became commercially available for a mere $1000, Celine Dion won album of the year, and SOHO opened its doors in the Vinings Jubilee complex as a neighborhood gathering spot, a place to go for a great meal and a good time.  Today, DVD players have changed to a Blu-Ray format, Mumford & Sons won this years album of the year, and SOHO has remained true to form for the past 16 years as the “Cheers of Vinings” where the staff and patrons are on first name basis basking in the moment.  Named after the artsy SoHo District in New York City, owners Frank and Susan Smith have brought that New York-like classy, hip flair to their highly popular restaurant where newcomers are quickly treated as regulars. The cornerstone of SOHO is its outstanding Pan Asian-Nouveau American menu that is managed by the multi-talented Executive Chef Joe Ahn. As an equal to the food is the instant gratification from SOHO’s welcoming hospitality, and if I didn’t know better I would have thought its name was derived from Southern Hospitality. 

One of the noticeable features at SOHO is its display of high quality local art that’s scattered throughout the restaurant, as well as its outstanding wine program.  Each week an offering is assembled highlighting three distinctive wines from various vinicultural regions or varietals creating a theme to explore as a flight or individually with savory tapas designed to complement their unique characteristics.  What a way to expand ones knowledge and appreciation of wines that might otherwise be overlooked. In addition to the wines of the weeks, the Smith’s have put together a “spot on” wine list where value meets quality head-on.  If something other than wine is needed to soften the day’s edge, there’s an assortment of titillating libations to choose from.  The one cocktail that I found that can easily transport the mind to some sunny beach is the Bahama Holiday- Malibu Banana Rum, Canton Ginger liqueur, fresh coconut juice, lime and a pinch of cardamom- this is a destination get-away in a glass.

When a dish is listed on the menu for 16 years, I guess you consider it a house favorite.  One of these “don’t you dare remove it from the menu” is the Chicken Tortilla Soup; yes a soup. No matter if you feel a bit sluggish from a cold or simply want something warm and comforting, Chef Ahn’s recipe is packed full of vigor and umami with chucks of shredded chicken in a rich homemade chicken stock that’s loaded with crisp tortilla chips, sweet corn, spicy chili peppers, zesty cilantro and tangy limes.  If this doesn’t liven up the palate then the General Joey’s Calamari surely will.  This is a throwback to the days when Chef Ahn worked in his family’s eatery, Fuji-Ya in Gettysburg, PA. Tender morsels of squid are flash fired then tossed is an exhilarating ginger- soy glaze with diced Serrano pepper, garlic, and scallions - yum.  Equally as savory as the calamari is the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio. The paper thin slices of eye of the round are drizzled with a housemade creamy Dijon sauce that adds an enticing tingle to this ultra tender melt in the mouth meat.  It’s topped with field greens, shaved asiago cheese, shallots and capers that are fried, and a wedge of toasted Parmesan bread.  This is a meat lover’s dream come true.

As with the starters, there are several time-honored entrees that should not to be missed at least in this lifetime. One of these masterfully prepared dishes is the Chilean Sea Bass that has been seared to perfection that has a slight crisp coating that opens to pure lushness with its moist buttery texture.  The lemongrass beurre blanc, ginger, and shallots gives this fish a thrilling taste and is served over a mound of forbidden rice with a side of sautéed baby bok choy. If your carnivore instincts need satisfying then either the Beef Short Ribs or the Elk Tenderloin will do the trick.  The boneless Painted Hills short ribs are slow-cooked for 6 hours in a burgundy based braising and served with horseradish mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach.  Whereas, the grilled New Zealand Elk Tenderloin is an explosion of rich exotic flavors without any gaminess and is dressed with a raspberry and Dijon marinade with a side of sweet potato gratin and haricot verts.  These offerings re-define comfort, as they are absolutely stunning. 

Leave a touch of space in the appetite to complete the culinary tour of Chef Joey’s kitchen for the warm decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding that’s drizzled with a duo of rich caramel sauces and scoop of old-fashioned vanilla ice cream – it’s an instant ticket to sweet dreams.  For over 16 years, SOHO has served creative foods and lively libations, and is still the place to go when in Vinings for a good time with friends or soon to be friends and who knows you just might meet your next BFF there.  Enjoy!!!

LGTG FRIENDLY ****                  
FOOD *****                                            
PRICE *****                                   
  AMBIENCE *****        
DRINKS ****



WHERE WOMEN COME OUT | WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |  www.labrysatl.com


Soho on Urbanspoon

  Soho Cafe Llc on Foodio54

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

TASTE A TOUCH OF SPAIN at BARCELONA WINE BAR, ¡OLE!


When in Spain, the best part of any day is when the sun retreats and people fill the streets casually promenading from one eatery or café to another all the while embracing each other’s companionship.  A touch of this lifestyle came to South Norwalk, Connecticut in 1995 in a small thirty seat wine bar when Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer opened the first Barcelona Wine Bar. The demand for this slice of the good life had proven so successful that Barcelona Wine Bar expanded to other locations including Atlanta.  Heading up the kitchen at the Inman Park location is Executive Chef Shane Devereaux whose unique hip cooking style brings an exciting flair to these time-honored Spanish and Latin classics. With the coming of Barcelona Wine Bar to Atlanta, a void was filled as the city now has a restaurant where both wine and food take center stage together as equals.

The wine director for Barcelona Wine Bar is the vivacious Gretchen Thomas.  For a thirty something, I am impressed on how Gretchen uses her wine knowledge to search out the best value to quality wines of which many are way under the radar for all to enjoy.  The wine list is just short of an encyclopedia and is like a who’s who of Iberian wines as well as a multitude of gems from South America and beyond. It is rare to find Jerez sherry on any list but to find the best of the best is stunning.  Instead of a dry martini, try the bone dry Lustau’s Palo Cortado “Peninsula” which offers great balance with rich almond aromas with prune eau de vie flavors that seem to linger forever and matches well with a serving of Boquerones, filets of anchovies marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil. Another treasure is Alvear’s “Carlos VII” Amontillado with its caramel nose and hazelnut, toffee flavors, which beckons a nibble or two from the outstanding Spanish cheese offerings– yum!!! 

Besides the extensive sherry offerings, Barcelona Wine Bar has assembled a fantastic wine by the glass program. If bubbles are the desire then treat it with a glass of Sumarroca Gran Reserva – the roasted chickpea puree or the marinated olives are nice matches for this creamy sparkler. To complement the Gambas al Ajillo, plump shrimp sautéed with roasted garlic and a splash of sherry, or the grilled scallops made with preserved lemons – Scallops a la Plancha – a glass of the Godello from the Valdeorras region is in order.  This beauty is noted for its complex yet elegant citrus aromas and flavors with a slight balsamic-like tingle in the aftertaste, which adds a nice accent to these seafood offerings. The other unique white wine to consider is the San Clodio from Ribeiro with its nectar-like flavors and a peppery spark in the background making this blend of indigenous varietals one refreshing vino - try it with the Crispy Calamari that’s served with a smoked pepper aioli, or the Salted Cod in a spicy tomato sauce, or the Pulpo Gallego - grilled octopus with pimentón picante and boiled fingerling potatoes – so many choices to be had but no matter what you choose it will be a winner.

One of the rock stars in making Spanish wines is Alvaro Palacios and his organically farmed “La Montesa” Crianza from Rioja hits all the notes with its deep black fruit flavors. This ultra-balanced elegant wine needs foods of substance like the Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs in a balsamic-sherry glaze or the savory Albondigas - meatballs in a sassy tomato sauce. My personal find was the 2009 Acústic, from Acústic Celler made in the rugged Montsant region of Spain.  Using traditional techniques, winemaker Albert Jane has created a wine that’s loaded with character that’s a thrill to sip and goes nicely with the grilled-to-perfection Lamp Chops, or the succulent Guajillo Chile Pork Ribs, or even some carvings from the renown black Iberian pig, Jamón Ibérico – this is as close to culinary nirvana as one can get – the best part is you don’t have to spend a fortune to get there.

When you think the treasure hunt for your OMG experience couldn’t get any better, guess what, it does. The 100% Tannat dessert wine from Uruguay’s Viñedo de los Vientos is simply nectar from the gods.  Its honey-like texture with its aromas of wildflowers, Madagascan vanilla bean, and a touch of white chocolate makes this unique wine ecstasy in a glass.  Either the freshly made Churros served with a warm dark chocolate sauce or the divine dulce de leche Crepas Salguero will surely seal the deal. We may not have embraced the style and grace of promenading here in ATL, but at least there is now a place to migrate with friends or soon to be friends and enjoy companionship while enjoying a slice of the good life - Barcelona Wine Bar style. 


LGTG FRIENDLY *****                  
FOOD ****                                            
PRICE *****                                   
  AMBIENCE *****        
DRINKS *****



WHERE WOMEN COME OUT | WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |  www.labrysatl.com



Barcelona Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

  Barcelona Wine Bar on Foodio54