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Dec 5, 2009 10:34 PM

The Tapas Two-step: mis trucos and Cafe Barcelona - Vancouver

Met some friends this evening at mis trucos. Nice to come in from the cold into the warm, welcoming room. I was early and had the Gin Gin Mule (gin, home-made ginger beer and mint) and later shared the pitcher of sangria (fruity and boozy). Both drinks were nice.

We did order a lot, but some of the choices were individual portions, almost like an amuse. These included a qualicum scallop with creme fraiche (foam?) and butternut squash puree and a fried prawn wrapped in a crepe (?) served with an aioli. We all liked the prawn better. Sorry for all the ?marks; I thought I could rely on the online menu but can't find a lot of the things we ordered. Looks like it's still the summer menu. A couple of us ordered a beet salad with chevre. I had a spoon of this, and this was also good.

A bit larger dish, although still tapas-sized, was the fennel, orange, and almond salad. We were surprised not to get the strong licorice taste from the fennel, which wouldn't have mattered since this salad was clean and fresh. We also enjoyed the pureed bacalao with leeks and flatbread.

We ordered two of the medium-sized or share-plates. First was a white truffle and king crab risotto. This was rich and delicious, but with 5 of us, we each got a tablespoonful and a half. We also got the seafood stew, which was like a bouillabaisse. Chunks of scallops, octopus, and prawns with a roasted tomato broth. It was perfect way to send us off into the cold.

My friends had tickets to a sold-out event so I was left solo and, actually, still hungry. Decided to stick to the spirit of the evening and walked over to the spanking new Cafe Barcelona on Granville.

I got there just after 7 so still a bit early and well-before their midnight closing. The resto fits about 40 people. The menu had hot and cold tapas and hot and cold Pintxos, which cost about 1/2 of the tapas and served with toothpicks. I never had any or needed any cutlery until dessert. The pintxos, like at mis trucos, could easily be an amuse. So with a vino tinto, I dug in. First I got a cold pintxos of a spoon of walnuts with blue cheese mousse. Nice start. I got a couple of hot pintxos: mushrooms with carmelized onions and bits of ham (3 teeny bits to be exact) atop a small slice of crusty bread, and Basque sausage also atop bread. Not as spicy as a chorizo and ok. As for hot tapas, I got the delicately fried pieces of bechamel sauce with ham. I liked this one becasue, well, fried says it all. But the ham again was AWOL.

These portions were tiny, as traditional tapas and pintxos, so I explored some more. I got another cold pintxos, jilda, which was a toothpick of an olive, pickled peppers and onion, and what I was told was an anchovy but didn't taste as fishy as one. Also got the traditional patatas bravas. Much better than La Bodega's since the sauce used roasted tomatoes and came with an aioli to dip in.

Topped things off with crema Catalana, their take on a creme brulee with hints of lemon and cinnamon. The fun part of creme brulee is the initial cracking of the burnt top. Really couldn't do that here but it was still good with the espresso.

As I left the server apologied for the slow service, which I didn't find a problem at all. What I didn't like, as a solo diner, was having to move from my 2-top to make room for a rez for 6. There wasn't a queue at the door either. I had to move just before dessert. At least I got a window seat, but this is why I like bar-seating if going alone.

Two different styles of tapas. While it feels like we've seen mis trucos and its like before, Cafe Barcelona felt traditional but new for the city.

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  1. and this is in what city? western canada is vast.

    4 Replies
      1. re: nonlinear

        yes, an important detail--Vancouver.

        1. re: el_lobo_solo

          The important detail was mention of Granville.

          1. re: Tripeler

            haha, not knowing where it was, i didn't actually read it THAT close :p

      2. Great report ELS - the first one I have seen on Cafe Barcelona. Great to have some "real" Spanish/Basque tapas instead of the pan-Mediterranean tapas for a change. What is the avg cost of the pintxos?

        BTW - I asked the Chowteam (using the "Report" function) to add "Vancouver" to the title. Anyone on this board can do this to any post with an undetermined location.

        1 Reply
        1. re: fmed

          Thanks for getting that fixed. Must remember that handy "report" function next time.

          IIRC the pintxos were $2-4. All of it was traditional. There were a couple of long high-tables with chairs. Wonder if they would go all-out traditional and just have people standing by the tables. Discarded toothpicks on the floor would add to the authenticity ; )

        2. Hi el lobo solo,
          I was also at Cafe Barcelona last night!:). I loved the tapas but the service left much to be desired (took 30 min before someone took our drink order, forgot to bring an item, overcharged on bill). Although, I think it's just because it was their second day so I would def go back. I had the prawns, patatas bravas, a dish of peppers cooked in olive oil and slathered with goat cheese, and a spanish omelette. All of it was delicious and I wish I could call the dishes by their proper names but I can't remember....we thought some bread would have gone well with everything to wipe up the sauces and then upon leaving noticed that most tables had been given baskets full of bread-I guess they just missed us. Hopefully the service gets better and I think it will once the staff gain some experience-I would return regardless as the prices were really good for what we ordered.

          1 Reply
          1. re: selena03

            It is a fun place. Probably killer atmosphere with the tv and the World Cup next year during Espana's games. Looks like you had the escaviche (grilled peppers with goat cheese). I wanted to try that too. Everything on the menu just looked so interesting with all the letter x's in the proper Catalan or Basque names. I also noticed the bread baskets as I was leaving; think it has to be ordered off-menu. Service could improve but at least everyone was friendly.