Last night, we met a close friend of ours for tapas before his 3 week holiday break in Oregon. And as a foodie and wine lover, his knowledge of fabulous Barcelona jaunts is impressive to say the least. From tiny little back alley cafes to large tourist havens, his culinary suggestions are generally spot on. Hence, it was of no surprise that he picked a unique and avant-guard wine and food bar called Terrabacus.
However, unlike prior locations we’ve visited with Josh, this was one of the few that caused dissidence between Ryan and I. While I adored the large bulbous chandeliers casting pinks pools of light on the long plush red banquettes and gleaming white tables, he felt the atmosphere gave off a cold and uncomfortable feel. Granted, our side of the table was suited up with hard leather bar stools that didn’t scream comfort; but with an incredible staff and great customer service, for me, the modern design accented with hues of red, felt cozy and welcoming.
And as many of you know, Spain is has not won medals for their stellar customer service. Common restaurant greetings typically take form in a no B.S. style, leaving overall politeness to northern Europeans. However, Terrabacus has challenged this norm by not only greeting me with a smile upon entry through the front door, but even going so far to ask if I needed anything while waiting for our fourth guest. Dios Mios! What is this lovely treatment?! As if this wasn’t heavenly enough, our tapas were spaced out over the course of the night, with a full replacement of dishes and silverware between courses, and…get this, waiters trolled around with lapel mics relaying when the next course should be prepared.
Where Ryan and I merged in opinion the glaring difference in quality between the wine and food menu. While the food menu was diverse, interesting, beautifully displayed and priced ok, it just wasn’t memorable. The Coca de Pasta Filo con Sardinas Maceradas y Crema de Hinojo (Philo layered with Pickled Sardines and Cream of Fennel) had a rather bland and fishy flavor. While the Timbal de Patatas con Butifarra Negra (Timbal of Potatos and Butifarra Negra), tasted like mashed potatoes with a tiny hint of sausage, lacking any pizazz whatsoever. Good? Sure, but foodie level great? No. Other than the Papardelle con Setas, Jamon de Bellota y Aceite de Trufa Negra (Papardelle pasta with mushrooms, cured Iberian ham in a black truffle oil), which was spectacular, our tapas were decent at best.
On the other hand, the wine menu was unique and interesting, consisting of a diverse and well-priced list of wines primarily set in Spain, but with additional choice picks from Uruguay, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, France, Austria, Hungry, South Africa and Argentina. What is also interesting to note is when asked of the sommelier what his most unique wine on the menu was, he did not choose a Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Priorat wine. I know, if you’re Spaniard, your jaw has most likely hit the ground in astonishment. Nope, our Catalan sommelier chose the Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce Pie Franco, 2006, from DO Manchuela.
This wine was manually harvested, aged for 2 years in French oak and made from 100% Bobal. A tiny producer with only 22 hectares of vines planted, we were thoroughly impressed for two reasons: 1. his wine service was impeccable and 2. he chose a wine from a small familiar winery. On the flipside, had he thought his way through, he might have chosen a wine we could have drank right off the bat, rather than waiting an hour for it to open; but truth be told, the wine has an incredible earthy nose, good acidity, and enough tannic structure to hold up to a gorganzola stuffed ribeye. Was it the perfect pairing for the food? No, but I give him points for creativity.
In short, this was a great find, at least for the wine menu. But this leaves me with a question for you. Do you frequent restaurants that have a good wine menu but passable food? Do you need both the food and the wine to be of equal quality? Where do you draw the line?
08036 – Barcelona
Tel. 93 410 86 33