Address: 1615 Chicago Ave. Evanston, IL 60201
Telephone: (847) 866 9900
Lunch – Mon – Sat: 11:30 – 2:30
Dinner – Mon-Thurs: 5:00 – 10:00 Fri & Sat: 5:00 – 11:00 Sun: 5:00 – 9:00
Website and Menu: www.tapasbarcelona.com
Being that my trip to the States is coming to a rapid close, I decided that there was no better way to spend a beautiful fall evening than visiting one of a handful of Spanish Tapas Restaurants in the Northern suburb of Evanston, Illinois. Squeezed amongst the plethora of high quality international restaurants sits Tapas Barcelona. And although I was unfamiliar with both its menu and atmosphere, I was incredibly excited to not only get a small taste of home, but also experience how Americans choose to express Spanish cuisine.
The menu itself had a wonderful array of both authentic and not so authentic items to choose from. However, those items that stretched the definition of “Spanish cuisine”, such as Bocadillo de Pavo – basically a BLT, were few and far between, while the majority of the menu appeared to remain consistent with what you might expect to find in some swanky little bar off a windy alley street in Barcelona. Some of examples of very traditional items are three different versions of Paella (saffron rice with seafood, chicken or vegetables), Patatas Bravas (potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce), Tortilla de Espanola (egg omelet with onions and potatoes) and Gazpacho (cold tomato soup), or a slightly creative item such as Berenjenas Con Queso y Avellanas (baked stuffed eggplant with goat cheese, hazelnuts in a red pepper sauce). All of our Tapas came promptly, warm and tasting delicious in the typical brown ceramic cazuelas that are inherent to any Spanish dish.
Wine, however, didn’t grab my attention as much as the food did. Although I was thoroughly impressed with both their sherry and cordial selection, I was really unimpressed with both their beer and table wine selection. Granted, names like Marques de Caceres and Marques de Riscal from Rioja are to be expected, but to then list Californian, French, Chilean and Italian wines is beyond comprehendible. As Ryan and I strive with all of our might to teach Americans how fabulous, diverse and complex Spanish wines are, why are we seeing any other wine in a supposedly “Spanish restaurant” than Spanish wine? I am continually perplexed as to why we feel that Spanish wine doesn’t hold up in quality or diversity on a wine menu, as exemplified by the McWilliams Hanwood Shiraz from Australia listed instead of a Garnacha from Priorat. It’s not to say that their wine menu doesn’t give some justice to Spanish wines by covering up-and-coming regions such as Utiel-Requeña, Rias-Baixas and Navarra, but in my mind, it doesn’t excuse listing any other wine but Spanish wine.
As for ambiance and service, I felt it was informal, but good. I didn’t anticipate old school Spanish design, nor the European style of serving where you are left to your own conversation until you actually signal your waiter, but I did feel as if they left us in peace without feeling as if I had been forgotten. And when I asked questions of my server about both the food and wine menu, I felt he was very amicable and swift at aiding us to come to an informed decision without being pushy or overbearing.
In the end, I would happily recommend Tapas Barcelona. Despite my desire to have a uniform Spanish wine selection, along with a food menu that doesn’t coddle the American appetite; I feel that anyone would thoroughly enjoy the experience, while getting a small taste as to some of the delectable treats you will come across in Barcelona.