Having no prior reservations for dinner on Christmas Eve got us into some serious trouble. The initial plan was to dine in a buffet restaurant, just like what we did last year. Calls here and there got us nowhere. All were fully booked. It was obviously understandable as you’d expect everyone to be out getting dinners with their families. This part was definitely us. Regrets, regrets. 😓😓
It took a few good hours to pull ourselves together and come up with an idea. It was getting late but despite our dampened spirits, we managed to get dressed for the occasion and go out as a family. We weren’t quite sure which places were open and for how long they’d be, so we decided to try somewhere near. Greenbelt. Known for having quite a selection of restaurants along its stretch, we thought we could probably make something work. (Now, that’s the spirit!)
Barcino. That’s where our feet brought us. It had this familiarly unfamiliar vibe to it. If you get what I mean. Barcino is a Spanish restaurant, you can tell from the get-go just by looking at the name. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Spanish cooking, though I’m certainly not new to it. We all agreed to call it a Spanish dinner prelude to Christmas. For the most part, I’d say we did, because we wanted something new on our palates. And, there was no denying, we were hungry. (Well technically, that was how it went for me, haha! 😉)
As soon as we got inside, we were ushered to our table. The place was pretty heavy with people. Menus were handed in pronto and orders were quickly taken after we had called out. The interior was a mixture of wood and stone. The lights were dim. Wine bottles were meticulously arranged everywhere. What I found more amusing were the pieces of furniture reminiscent of Spanish culture. Truly, I’d say the ambience was perfect.
What we had was their Patatas Bravas, Ensalada de Pollo y Mango, Paella Negra, and Pollo al Ajillo for the mains. Servings were sufficient. Most of their dishes would be good for two to three persons. Their service turnaround time was impressive. Drinks were served first, along with their house bread. Shortly after, the Patatas Bravas was put down our table. It was a mound of potatoes with salsa on top. The way it looked didn’t give away how delicious it was. At first, I had thought of it as a Spanish variation to French fries with ketchup. It could be, though. But the salsa was something on its own. Not to mention how perfect it went with the cute potato cubes. Heaven in my mouth!
The Ensalada de Pollo y Mango was, quite frankly, okay. It was a mixture of leafy greens, topped with roast chicken and mangoes, bathed in vinaigrette dressing. What absolutely stood out, for me, was the roast chicken and how they’d done it. It was tender, and juicy, and yes, yummy! The mango created a subtle, zesty flavor to the dish, which was another good thing. However, the lack of the vinaigrette dressing made it a little too bland.
The next dishes brought to our table were the stars of the night. Paella Negra and Pollo al Ajillo. Paella Negra is rice cooked in black squid ink. To be honest, the presentation seemed flat to me. And I was rather surprised seeing that the only element to it all was squid. I’ve seen different takes on the dish, with far more ingredients. Not to be fooled though, what made it uniquely exquisite to the tongue was the aioli. Perfectly done and outrightly matched the rice. Yum.
Last but not the least, the Pollo al Ajillo. Simply, chicken and garlic. Chicken sautéed in lots of garlic and white wine sauce. I loved this dish so much. Plain you might say, but the flavor is just so exorbitant. I have a thing for garlic, and the more there is, the merrier I am! The chicken was superbly tender and juicy, just like the roasted one from the salad, only this time, it was ten times better. There was too much goodness in this one, I could finish the entire pot myself!
We got desserts after. We ordered their Delicia de Chocolate and Crepe with Banana and Custard. Both were alright. I’d have to say, desserts aren’t Barcino’s speciality. The egg whites in the souffle cake seemed to have been whisked more than it should, which made it a little stiff in its consistency.
Overall, I found the experience exceed my expectation. Food was good; the crew, helpful and fast; and the place itself gave off a relaxing feel. The prices weren’t cheap, but all was worth it because the servings were big enough, and the dishes, cooked with quality.