Catalan Barcelona Tapas Bar, Southsea – Restaurant Review
With only a few months of trading under its belt, my dining companion and I approached the Catalan Barcelona Tapas Bar in Southsea with a mixture of excitement and hesitation.
Being the first of our circle to sample the Spanish delights that this Marmion Road establishment has to offer, we had no recommendations to go on – good nor bad.
From the outside the orange and blue decor with neon signs seems at odds with the rest of the street but the inside is warm, stylish and welcoming and the staff hurry to find us a table.
For a Tuesday night it is surprisingly busy and families and couples alike are tucking into delicacies from Europe.
We order bread and oils (£2.50) and a bottle of rosé wine (£16.50) whilst we peruse the menu which is divided into two main categories – paella and tapas.
Whether you like just fish, a variety of meats, vegetables or a mix of all, there is a paella (from £21) which will suit all palettes.
It is suggested they serve two people so bring a friend and be prepared to wait the 35 minutes while the chef cooks it from scratch.
Your Dish Detective and said companion opted to share a few tapas but agreed to return for a paella another time.
Lamb meatballs with tomato sauce (£6.75), breaded sesame chicken with katsu curry sauces (£6.25), whitebait with chilli saffron mayonnaise (£5.50), patatas bravas (£5.25) and halloumi fries with chilli sauce (£5.95) arrived at our table.
It was only slightly after our breads and oils but the staff apologised for the wait and told us they would take it off the bill – a nice gesture and one that earns them kudos for a second visit.
Now after getting a GCSE in Spanish some several years ago, I would consider myself an, ahem, expert but my knowledge of their cuisine is lacking and doesn’t go further than a Spanish omelette, paella and churros – quite an adventurous meal from an all inclusive resort in Benidorm all things considered.
So I was pleasantly surprised by the number of different tapas on offer and whittling down the menu to just a few dishes proved a difficult task.
But the few dishes we did choose were all top-notch.
The meatballs were tender and the tomato sauce was a perfect dipping sauce for the breads once the meatballs had been devoured.
Breaded chicken and katsu curry sauce is probably not one of the more traditional Spanish tapas but tasted amazing all the same.
My dinner pal was not a fan of the whitebait and freaked out about eating the small fish whole.
But covered in breadcrumbs and dipped in saffron mayonnaise you can hardly tell you are eating eyes, bones and all – in fact, it was rather delicious.
Quite frankly you can’t go wrong with potatoes and the Catalan Barcelona’s patatas bravas with both bravas sauce and aioli was spot on.
I could have quite happily taken a quick trip to the sunny city of Barcelona and ordered ten bowls of the stuff, but the Dish Detective restrained themselves in the knowledge that we could come again soon.
For the millennials out there, halloumi fries had a home on the menu and fear not because they were good.
We definitely had eyes bigger than our stomachs and the small dishes are deceivingly filling. Yet we found room in our dessert stomachs for churros.
Chocolate-filled and served with caramel sauce, these churros (£6.50) were a cut above the rest. We left full, happy and ready to recommend to a friend.