Six Plates, No Bowl: Our First Time with Tapas

Solomillo con Cabrales!

Solomillo con Cabrales! Tiny yet fantastic. And this wasn’t even our favorite course.

Each year my wife Anne and I have indulged our own special Super Bowl tradition: while the rest of the world is watching football and swapping snacks and beers with best friends and chatting about The Sports, the two of us have dinner at a fancy restaurant we’ve never tried before. Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., anyplace without a large-screen TV is usually deserted and totally ours for the taking.

The last few years have also seen Super Bowl Sunday coincide with a local event called Devour Downtown, in which dozens of upscale establishments in downtown Indianapolis offer a limited-time sort of blue-plate special that allows plebes like us to come in and sample their cuisine from a specially selected discount menu. It’s still a bit pricier than five-dollar footlongs, but in our experience the quality has always been immeasurably higher, no matter where we’ve gone.

This year we decided to check out the wonderful world of tapas. First-timers, us.

Welcome to BARcelona Tapas. They have a second location in St. Louis.

BARcelona Tapas!

Ignore the harsh scoring from the crossing signal. BARcelona Tapas deserves much higher than a 7 on any scale you care to use.

Their specialty is Spanish cuisine served in controlled doses on nice saucers for friends to taste and compare notes. I understand liquor is also meant to be involved, but that’s not our thing. I realize we’re 15-20 years behind on the whole “tapas” sensation, but we’ve just never given it much thought. Their official site says they also serve a weekday lunch buffet and Sunday brunch, so I may need to think about tapas a lot more often.


The lovely lady, the themed decor, and the seats that would’ve been filled if not for Super Bowl L.

Their Devour Downtown offering was a six-course meal for $35 with limited yet nonetheless tantalizing options. We chose within the boundaries and approved of the overall results. Pictured above is plate #5, Solomillo con Cabrales — grilled petite tenderloin with bleu cheese, spinach, and red wine reduction. Curiously, they brought us plate #5 before plate #4, but we’re not savvy enough to know if this constitutes a major faux pas for which we should feel indignant and demand justice.

The first three plates came out quickly with only a few minutes between each:

Tortilla Espanola!

Plate #1: Tortilla Espanola — Fresh potatoes and onion omelette cake with spinach and, I think, some form of garlic sauce, which was under the lemon but really made the dish. This, thankfully, was the smallest of the six.

Queso de Cabra al Horno!

Plate #2: Queso de Cabra al Horno — Baked goat cheese in a spicy tomato sauce, with garlic bread. Goat cheese is quite simply THE BEST.

Alcachofas Fritas!

Plate #3: Alcachofas Fritas — crispy artichokes with lemon alioli and shaved Manchego cheese. Don’t mistake these for Pizza Hut appetizers — they went with the alioli much better than with the tomato sauce on plate #2. Also, in case you’re clever enough to be thinking “AHA TYPO!” please be aware alioli, aioli, and allioli are three different things, apparently. This was alioli.

A long pause between the next pair of plates gave us time to continue our ongoing chat about our TV viewing this weekend. The sixth season of Downton Abbey on Blu-ray landed in our mailbox this weekend and we had to binge-watch and catch up with PBS viewers who just got to Episode 6 tonight during the Super Bowl. She and I have now seen through Episode 7 (HA! HA, I say, Viewers Like You) and I’m predicting Episode 8 and the Christmas special will see the series turn into Hunger Games 1925, in which the Granthams and the staff all take up arms and come at each other until only one is left standing to become lord of any buildings not yet burned to the ground. My money’s on Mr. Bates for the win.

…anyway. Then came the Solomillo con Cabrales, followed by our favorite of the night:

Gambas al Alioli!

Gambas al Alioli (there’s that word again) — garlic shrimp with chili oil and fresh lemon. 10/10 would order again in buckets.

And you may recognize our dessert:

Cajeta Churros!

Plate #6: Cajeta Churros! Stuffed with strawberry and caramel, served with chocolate sauce. Denser and crunchier than the American versions I’ve had at theme parks.

…and then we returned home, enjoyed an all-new bacon-themed episode of Chopped, and waited patiently for new movie trailers to debut on TV first and then pop up on YouTube seconds later. Because that’s our kind of Super Bowl party.

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