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Mar 14, 2009 09:16 PM

Oakland (Temescal): Barlata ... or ... B44 East

Yes, I know there are two other threads out there but the resaurant name in the title is incorrect in them. Here are the other discussions for future searches.

More than half of the menu at Barlata is identical to B44. Even the latas ... or dishes served in tins ... are on the B44 menu ... only not served in tins.

So however you feel about the food at B44, you will feel the same at Barlata.

I went for one reason and one reason only ... the horchata de Valencia.

Unlike the Mexican version which is made with rice, the Spanish version is made with tigernuts ... more info here

It was sprinkled with a healthy dose of cinnamon on top and not as sweet or flavorful to me as the Mexican version. It had almost a mild almond flavor to it.

I also had
- Roasted garlic soup
- Revuelto Shrimp and mushroom scramble
- Mar I muntanya Lamb meatballs / squid / chocolate & tomato sauce
- Bacadito de chocolate (grilled chocolate with crema Catalana sauce
- cortado

I ordered dishes not on the B44 menu.

As mentioned there is a complementary dish of olives with three thin slices of bread. They were good, but the above threads raised my expectations too much. They were good, just not as amazing or different as I thought they would be.

This was the first time I had roasted garlic soup so i can't say if it was good or bad. It was nicely presented in a small black cast iron pot and a decent serving. The broth was very light and scrambled egg with maybe three roasted garlic cloves floated on top. A toasted piece of bread came with it. Not a lot of garlic flavor though.

The shrimp was just what is sounded like ... eggs scrambled with shrimp and mushrooms. The bonus here was that it came with a piece of Pa amb tomaquet ... bread / tomato / olive oil . The good part about this dish was the shrimp were maybe some of the best I've had in my life ... attention-getting, eye-opening good ... so sweet and tasty. The sliced mushrooms, while not a lot, were above average also.

People used to rag on me for liking the departed Pri Pri, but their version of Pa amb tomaquet was much better. In either case, I don't think this is a dish that translates well to winter and requires stellar summer tomatoes to raise it to wonderful ... not going to happen in March. The thin, almost watery spread made me glad I didn't pay for this as a separate dish.

Also, the price of $9 is absurd. Last Sunday at Fonda I had a breakfast of shrimp diablo (so to speak) that had the eggs, shriimp, beans, rice, house-baked pastry and excellent coffee ... ALL for $9 ... and Fonda can match or exceed anything Barlata is doing.

The meatball dish was more interesting and intriguing rather than delicious. WIth the correct wine, I think this could be very nice. It also shows the promise Barlata might have.

It smelled wonderfully chocolate-y. The sauce was a little like a thick, complex mole. The lamb meatballs almost had a taste of liver to them ... though not in a bad way. While the squid didn't add anything to the dish, they were a fine component/

Skip the dessert I ordered. This is two slices of crustless white bread spread with a chocolate sauce with hints of orange and grilled. There was a little bowl of sauce to dip it in. While this sounded interesting, it didn't taste like much.

Other desserts which aren't on the website yet are
- Rice pudding parfait with strawberries and cream
- Plato de dolces - almond cookies, chocolate dipped candied peel, turron, sweet and spicy peanuts and rum-raisin orange truffles. I wish this is what I ordered instead.
- Helado en lata - Turron nugat and chocolate ice cream served in ice cream

The cortado was lovely and reminded me how much I liked this coffee in Spain.

I like the space quite a lot. The lines are neat and clean. Ther are a dozen two tops that can be moved close together for groups of 4 - 6. There's the big 20 seat communal table. A little alcove table and a six seat grey marble bar. A lot of training was still going on tonight but they seem to have a nice staff.

The bar has items like cans of Matiz sardines, jars of fig paste and a few other jarred and tinned items that will be for sale. There are eclectic touches like toys, skeletans dining and Oaxacan carved animals scattered here and there.

This is Beldon food though. For the decade I worked in the Financial district, I always thought all those restaurants were ok, a bit overpriced, but nothing ever wowed me.

4901 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

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    1. Does he make the horchata with chufa? People here often substitute almonds since chufas are hard to get in the US, and also expensive ($17 a kilo from

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Yep. Definately chufa. I started by asking if it was made with rice, almonds ... and the bartender jumped in and volunteered tigernuts. Now looking at the first link in my OP, it seems that these are a seasonal, summer thing. So I don't know if they are using the dried version or if that would work. Maybe if someone else tries it there they can get more info about the tiger nut source and state. Also, you can buy bottled chufa online, but this doesn't seem like the type of place that would do that.

        1. re: rworange

          Cool, I think that's a first around here. I would have tried it but they didn't have it the first night.

          Chufas are dried. Horchata is seasonal in the sense that it's popular in hot weather.

      2. At dinnertime, Fonda charges $13.50 for a shrimp and mushroom dish. That seems like a fairer comparison than brunch.

        1. We ate a bunch of things there tonight. The standouts were the grilled
          sardines, though much bigger than the standard Spanish bar fish which
          can be eaten bones and all these needed some fork work. The olives
          were extremely good. And the tortilla was an absolutely world-class
          rendition -- the balance of onion/egg/potato/oil was weighted in the
          egg/oil direction and cooked to an almost custardy set. Best american
          version I've ever had and would easily make it into my top ten
          from Spain.

          Unfortunately, at $7 the tortilla is just a tad too much for lunch in the
          neighborhood or I'd be there six times a week.

          The escalivada was a little weird. Four little piles of grilled onions, peppers
          eggplant, and something else. A tiny microdollop of cabrales cheese on
          the onions might have been good if there were enough to taste. I suppose
          we should have mixed everything together but we went at the individual
          piles individually and it wasn't very exciting.

          They've done an excellent job of reduplicating the little neighborhood bar that
          every Spanish neighborhood has two or three of. But as usual, they've done
          the backwards american thing: focusing on the food with the drinks as an
          expensive afterthought. You'd think with all the grapes we grow out here
          somebody would figure out how to open a place where I could spend an
          hour or two with a cheap bottle of drinkable wine and some light, tasty
          grub and not have to deposit my paycheck at the door.

          The one opening-week glitch I hope they get over: the overly-attentive staff
          inadvertently made us feel rushed at every opportunity. "Can I take your
          order? Can I take your order? How about now? Can I take your plate? Another
          drink? Are you done with that? How about now? Now? Can I take your plate?"
          NO! Go away and leave me alone! I'm sure things will relax as time goes
          on, and this is the much better end of the spectrum to be starting from. But man.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

            We went last Wednesday. The food we had was good and the service friendly, but not accurate. We ordered two glasses of (different) wines and four plates. We had a discussion with the waiter about each dish ( how would you like the steak cooked, which would you recommend, how is that pronounced, etc) while he wrote down our order . We got one order that was correct. The oxtail was yummy. The steak was not ordered, until after we had inquired about it twice. It was good when we finally got it. We got a plate of sardines we had not ordered. We said so, mentioned what we had ordered, he said he did not recall that, then ordered the brandade for us. Good, not very exciting. Would be really nice in colder weather with the warm fish and potatoes. Left the sardines without saying anything. So we ate them after ten minutes. okay, but had to wrestle with the fork to get the flesh off the bones. I was looking forward to the revuelta we had ordered. It was not to be. We asked after our last dish we were expecting, he went to the computer to check, never came back. After we had finished our wine (served in individual carafes, nice touch) we asked again. He said we had not ordered it. We said we did. Offered a dessert menu. Came back for dessert order. We did not want any. He asked if we wanted to order the revuelta. We said no, we were now finished with dinner. Said that the revuelta had been ordered and not delivered several times that evening. What? Were they out? No, they just did not make it for some tables. Brought the check. Printed computer receipt with everything we had originally ordered on it , so somehow that got in to the computer. Sent the check back to be corrected. No apology for errors, no comps, nothing.
            Place was busy, everyone was very nice. I don't see going back until they can get the process down better.

            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              The drinks aren't expensive by local standards. Wine prices start at $4 glass / $18 bottle, draft beer at $4.

              "at $7 the tortilla is just a tad too much for lunch in the neighborhood"

              Price aside, Barlata doesn't open until 5pm.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Hmmm, there's a $4 on the online menu but I didn't see it on the menu last night. Not bad. Though it's "local standards" that are the issue moreso than Barlata's adherence to them.

                5pm?!? What kind of spanish bar isn't open for breakfast!?!

                Here is my Unsolicited but Very Valuable Advice to the Barlata people: Open from noon until 2pm. Serve only one thing: the tortilla. Chill one cheap, drinkable red and serve it with the tortilla. Charge $7 for a tortilla and glass of wine. Look at the lunchtime empire Bakesale Betty has carved out for herself serving, essentially, a single menu item. Once word gets around, you'll be buying a stack of old ironing boards too.

                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  I had a $5 glass of the 2002 Dehesa Montes de Toledo that was better than a lot of wines I've had for $8-9 elsewhere.

            2. Now open for lunch, Wed.-Fri. noon-2:30.

              No horchata any more. The owner said the machine was unreliable.