Barraca – Barockin Tapas in the West Village

Let’s get down to brass tacks – if you like tapas, sangria, and feeling like you are part of the cool crowd, get yourself to Barraca.

Barraca is a new West Village tapas restaurant by chef Jesus Nunez. The night that we were there, the NYC chef was actually walking around the restaurant between cooking in the back, which is sadly the exception and not the rule in NYC. Don’t even think of coming to this small, bustling restaurant unless you have a reservation. This is the crowd at 8 pm on a Saturday night:

And when you do have a reservation that will be honored promptly  you feel unspeakably cool walking past all of the attractive people huddling in front of the hostess booth, begging for a seat.

What, like I’m the only one with that kind of schadenfreude?

Albondigas

These little meatballs are more flavorful than their names would have you believe. The beef is soft and spiced with garlic, onions, and oregano. They are moist, laying in a broth of roasted carrots, turnips, and other root vegetables, making a sweet and savory bed for these heavenly meatballs. They are almost like a slightly spicier version of tsimmis.

Ensalada de Foie

That’s right. I can have my salad and eat my foie, too. Tender baby greens with a tart raspberry vinaigrette, crunchy candied hazelnuts, and fresh, firm berries. Alone, this would be a well balanced, refreshing salad, but adding the tender lobes of foie bring it to w wholly new level. Though the foie lacked a charred, crispy sear, it was cooked to the proper temperature, still slightly pink and meltingly tender. This is not a perfect salad, but such a good one that I would absolutely order it again.

Patatas Bravioli with ali-oli and brava sauce

Brava sauce indeed, because BRAVA to whomever invented this dish. Crisply fried hunks of potatoes, crispy  outside and unbelievably fluffy within, they are layered with fragrant saffron and pepper heavy brava sauce and garlicky, creamy ali-oli. It is french fries gone Spanish, and it is absolutely fantastic. As a bonus, they are great for soaking up the booze in the deceptively easy to drink pitchers of sangria.

Jaretta de tenerra

The veal shank of my dreams. Sweet and savory, mingled with softly caramelized onions, the deep tannins of wine, and the slightly salty taste of Cabreles cheese. It has an almost jamlike consistency, spreadable and pleasantly fatty on the pliant charred bread served alongside. For all the world, this is the Spanish version of pulled pork and Texas toast – indulgent, meaty, and totally satisfying.

Lechuga a la Brasa

We ordered this braised lettuce mostly as a lark. After all, who the heck eats braised LETTUCE? At a restaurant offering pork and foie gras nonetheless? Well, the joke was on my carnivorous friend ans myself. This is marvelous! Tender in some parts, crispy and charred at others, served with a sauce so garlicky that it would kill Dracula on the very spot. It is warm, slightly bitter, and surprisingly meaty  almost like bok choy, but with a decidedly Spanish kick. This is an absolute sleeper hit, and must be eaten to be understood.

Barraca isn’t cheap, but it isn’t priced out of its neighborhood or quality either. It is an upscale night out, great for a group of friends or a double date. It is delicious, the service is fantastic, and they actually managed to make me eat grilled lettuce.

Will wonders never cease?