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“Barca 18-- CLOSED”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Spanish Flatiron Moderate Good

Steve Hanson is one of those restaurateurs that people either seem to love or hate. Some industry wags can’t stand his formulaic approach, and his robotic, overly studied service style. Others admire his success, his shameless mass-market appeal, his ability to create buzz and serve decent food to everyone from your cousins from Idaho, your blind date from lord knows where, to your parents on the Upper East Side. Wherever you come out on this scale, it’s hard not to agree that the man is a success. He has an empire of restaurants (Vento, Blue Fin, Blue Water, Ocean, Atlantic Grill, Dos Caminos), one of which has three stars from the New York Times and one from those pesky Michelin folks (Fiamma). But the old fuddy duddy in his empire was Park Avalon, a relic from the 80s that had become the restaurant equivalent of sparkly leg warmers. But leg warmers are apparently back (oh dear), and so is Park Avalon, just reformulated, redesigned and repackaged as Barça 18, a Spanish restaurant with one of the city’s most lauded chefs, Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, at the helm.

This unexpected marriage caused some head scratching in the business. So much so that some scalps were bleeding. People were shocked. I was one of them. But the partnership, Steve explained, was a product of their friendship and one pivotal trip to Spain together when the idea went from pipedream to reality. And so Eric Ripert, with his executive chef Brian O’Donohoe (sous chef at Le Bernardin for eight years) are cooking Spanish food for Steve Hanson. Crazier things have happened, right? Right?

Anyway, what could really be bad about Eric Ripert cooking anything, anywhere? I mean give him peanut butter and jelly at a corner deli and he could turn it into masterpiece. The guy is a genius. But I couldn’t help but wonder if he would be able to pull off Spanish food at Hanson’s crazy pace of 300+ people a night. And so I began eating at Barça on a fairly regular basis to find out.

On my first visit with my friend Adrienne, we ate at the bar, one of my favorite places to dine. We started with a platter of charcuterie ($12). While it’s nothing innovative, it is delicious and quite visually appealing. A butcher block comes topped with wide ribbons of jamon, coins of chewy, spicy chorizo, and triangles of nutty Manchego with two long wedges of pan con tomate—two halves of a hot and crusty toasted baguette rubbed with garlic ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Flatiron :
+ Suenos   + Amuse-- Closed   + Dos Caminos   + Lucy-- Closed   + Gramercy Taver   + Veritas   + Fleur De Sel   + Bolo -- CLosed   + City Bakery   + Shake Shack   + Kalustyan's Cafe   + Devi   + BLT Fish   + Sugarcane   + BLT Prime   + Barca 18-- CLOSED   + Beppe   + Barbounia   + Boqueria   + Eleven Madison   + Lonesome Dove-- CLOSED   + Hill Country   + Olana   + Wildwood   + Primehouse   + Allegretti   + Bar Breton   + Aldea   + SD26 by Bao Ong   + ABC Kitchen   + Ciano   + The NoMad   

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