New Haven Restaurant Week: Lots and Lots of Tapas
Upon my return from a recruiting trip a few weeks ago, I saw a big sign in Union Station that read: "New Haven Restaurant Week." I learned that like the restaurant week I was used to in Miami, the one here also offered prix fixe lunch and dinner at participating restaurants at a cheaper price than ordering off the menu. Each restaurant offers menus that let you choose an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert for $16.38 for lunch and $29.00 for dinner.
Awesome, I thought, this is the perfect way to pig out on good food without breaking the budget. I desperately needed a break from my eating-like-a-rabbit wedding diet (just as a side note, this was induced by someone who shall remain nameless who told me, while patting my belly for emphasis no less, that I "should go on a diet before my wedding" because I needed to lose belly fat--even though I AM NOT OVERWEIGHT. Can you tell I am still traumatized?). Anyway, I digress, back to my getting excited about eating A LOT. Mmmmm.
So, back in front of a computer, I checked out the restaurant week website (which unfortunately is no longer up) and went through all of the menus to pick the ones I liked. I wanted to choose a restaurant that had a great menu and that I had never been to before. I decided on Barcelona since one of the prix fixe options let you pick any 4 tapas off the menu--this would give me a chance to sample items off the regular menu.
Because there were four of us having dinner, we got to order 12 tapas. The experience was worth it only because of the sheer volume of food we got to order since the quality of the food was mediocre and I would not have been happy if I had had to pay regular prices for what we ate. We ordered a little bit of everything--vegetables, meat, beans--choosing from the tapas and raciones section of the menu. Yet most dishes were just ok.
There were a couple of things that did stand out and were especially good--the Cauliflower Cazuela and the Grilled Lamb Chops racion. But I can't remember if we had the warm octopus salad, which is sad because it is one of my favorite things (especially "Pulpo a La Gallega," a typical Spanish octopus dish). In my book, if you can't make good octopus, you shouldn't call yourself a Spanish restaurant, let alone "Barcelona." But, then again, many traditional Spanish tapas dishes are absent from this menu so I had entered at my own risk.
In the end, the restaurant looked a bit too pretentious and like it was trying too hard, plus it was gimmicky (there is a huge wall-sized mural of a bullfighter--need I say more?). And the food was the same--trying too hard to be something it wasn't. But I am looking forward to the next Restaurant Week, which returns in the spring, so stay tuned. And it will be post-wedding so I will eat even more than I did this last time.