Boqueria – First Restaurant Review Ever - Long
Hi. This is my first restaurant review, here we go.
Went to Boqueria last night with a friend. We hustled to get there straight from work to beat the crowd – and what a crowd there turned out to be! But at 6:15ish, we were seated right away at one of the tall tables along the wall. Our server was just what you want in a tapas server, efficient, polite, and quick. The meal was paced perfectly and at no point did we feel neglected or overlooked.
We began with a pitcher of red sangria, which was delicious – it was light and sparkling with bright citrus undercurrents and bite sized pieces of zest and apple floating delightfully throughout. The first dish to arrive was the Patatas Bravas. These deep fried potatoes were all right, a nice healthy portion in a sloping white bowl under a drizzle of red pepper aioli. Although these were nothing very special, the two of us did manage to eat the entire bowl, so that probably says it all. We shared the Croquetas Cremosas, a triumvirate of croquettes each featuring a different ingredient, mushroom, ham and salt cod (I think). It was hard to tell, as the too soft texture somehow masked their individual flavors, and just ended up kind of gray and mushy in my mouth. The real standout of the night were the Pimientos de Padrón, these are charred skinned (blistered they say on the menu) small green peppers covered in good coarse salt, and were simply addictive. We couldn’t get enough of them. Bruni I think had the same reaction – and actually, it was based on his NYT review that I insisted we order them. They were wonderful, salty and smoky with a bit of heat, and our plates quickly amassed knots of their stems. We also had the Chorizo Cantimpalo, the Gambas al Ajillo, and the Txipirones. The Txipirones were definitely my favorite, a hasty tangle of bitter greens covering soft, buttery baby octopus. The greens really offset the creaminess of the seafood, and the plate was dotted with hot fried chickpeas that had a nice crispy, salty bite to them. The Gambas were our least favorite, the shrimp’s texture was off, I prefer them a little more toothsome, and although their pool of garlic and oil sauce was nice and aromatic, the shrimp didn’t really carry the flavor. I did enjoy the sauce, however, slicked on the bread our server generously provided, “a whole other dish” he said, and he was right, it was garlicky, oily goodness.
All in all, I would say that this was a lovely meal, the lighting in the restaurant is golden and flattering, the constant din is loud but not overpowering – more enlivening, we had lots of energy throughout the meal, and our conversation was bright and happy – although, perhaps we can thank the pitcher of sangria for that. Although all the dishes weren’t stunning, they were as a whole clean and fresh, and definitely tasty.
Boqueria has a nice atmosphere, the bar in front really reminds me of actual tapas bars in Madrid. I thought the Txipirones were good but overly salty, which was too bad because they were grilled to a perfect texture, not too chewy, just soft enough. I loved the boquerones; until recently it was hard to find boquerones on a menu anywhere, so it was nice to have them here. I do wonder, though, why do several of the tapas bars in NYC serve the tortilla with crema? I've eaten a lot of tortilla in spain in my time and never seen it offered this way. However, having said that, I haven't eaten it in Barcelona, so perhaps it's a regional thing. Does anyone know the answer to that?
I'd definitely go back to Boqueria again, and preferably with a non-vegetarian friend, so that I could try more of the fish and meat dishes!