Your ultimate guide to Barcelona Wine Bar—now open in South End

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Courtesy of Barcelona Wine Bar

You can smell Barcelona Wine Bar’s Harrison ovens when you enter the restaurant. The charcoal wunderkinds, which function as grill-oven hybrids, emit a smoky scent that makes everyone in the restaurant — whether in the dining area or at the jam-packed bar — thankful for its open-kitchen concept.

Photo by Beth Castle

And, boy, is that open kitchen bustling. Although only one weekend old, Barcelona’s Charlotte location has touted 1.5- to 2-hour wait times every evening since it quietly opened its doors on Thursday.

“It’s the Barcelona way to roll things out slowly,” said General Manager Josh Grogan of the restaurant’s attempt at an under-the-radar start. That, of course, didn’t quite happen, but if you’ve been following the hype of South End’s “Design District,” that’s to be expected.

Courtesy of Barcelona Wine Bar

The area just off the Rail Trail has welcomed a number of high-profile newcomers over the past few months—namely, multi-state sugar empire Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Atlanta-based Tex-Mex restaurant Superica. Barcelona, a wine-and-tapas concept out of Connecticut, is the 16th of its kind in the country and the first in North Carolina. It’s also the only Barcelona, so far, to have those Harrison ovens.

That’s not to say the brand opens the same Barcelona in every state. “It’s not our concept to say, ‘This is Barcelona in a box,’” Grogan said. They try to make the restaurant fit into its neighborhood and city. Local talent Chef Nicolas Daniels, formerly of Loft & Cellar, mans the kitchen, and the restaurant has ample first-come, first-serve patio space that’s meant to reel in 20-somethings as they leave neighboring Sycamore Brewing. A Barcelona representative also hand-selected local drafts (read: drank her way through Charlotte breweries) to make sure craft beer drinkers would feel at home.

Photo by Beth Castle

Yet it’s the signature Barcelona-isms that make the restaurant what it is. Among them: 400 wines by the bottle and occasional tokens for free tapas given out in a spirit of goodwill.

Then, in true tapas tradition, there’s the restaurant’s focus on shared experiences, which culinary director chef Larry Baldwin said is best navigated by starting at the top of the menu and working your way down.

Photo by Beth Castle

Meat and cheese come first: Open the meal with Spanish delicacy jamon mangalica, or cured Hungarian pig, paired with North Carolina-made Snow Camp, a creamy soft cheese made from goat and cow’s milk. It’s served alongside bread from Nova’s Bakery. “We always say that the jamon and manchego open the door for people because they’re quintessentially Spanish,” Grogan said.

Photo by Beth Castle

After that, move on to tapas. Of the far-ranging selection, Baldwin recommended the oysters because they’re cooked using the aforementioned Harrison oven, and that flavor is not-to-be-missed. When set on the table, you can smell the same backyard-pig-roast aroma that you did when you entered the restaurant — this time coming off three breaded Massachusetts oysters.

Photo by Beth Castle

The final stop on the menu is the paella, a savory rice dish served with a variety of seafood. Grogan said this choice is for everyone, but it’s especially good for dates since it’s meant for two. For the meat averse, there’s also an entirely vegan vegetable paella, which is topped with cauliflower, collards and mushrooms.

Photo by Beth Castle

Beyond food, Barcelona’s bar-goers will enjoy a plentiful menu of wine flights, sangria and nine craft cocktails (the Barcelona Gintonic is their take on a G&T). The restaurant and the bar open at 4 p.m. every day, and Grogan said they plan on being a late-night hub for many people.

“Our philosophy is we’re open until the last guest leaves,” Grogan said. Wine and tapas until 2 a.m. it is.

Photo by Beth Castle

3 COMMENTS

  1. Another exclusive hip and trendy “restaurant” aimed for the [mostly white] yupsters, real estate developers and tech and finance bros…, oh wait I’ve said this repeatedly before on most of C5’s pubs/restaurants/brewery/ posts…

    …thankful for its open-kitchen concept…
    You’re making it sound like that’s a good thing. You forgot to mention the design of this joint — high ceilings, had surfaces such as wooden seatings with no cushions, un-carpeted floors, exposed concrete, steel and brick that are not remediated by soft, porous materials that absorb the sound waves frantically bouncing off everything in a restaurant. In other words, this is yet another VERY LOUD bar/restaurant/brewery/gastro pub similar to others that have opened up in Charlotte and C% has proudly featured. And you know why, right? Of course you do. All for profit. Loud bars mean more alcohol consumption and quick and high turnover in a minimum amount of time. Plus the open kitchen, which significant add to the loudness. One cannot have a nice conversation without shouting on top of each other and other’s customer’s talking. But folks really aren’t there for the conversation, right. They are there for another instagrammable moment. Back then or traditionally kitchens were enclosed so that the customers can not hear the loud noise coming from it. But you celebrate the open kitchen concept. Furthermore, it’s detrimental to the staff who work at such places esp. those working double sifts since the decibel level is high, which can lead to hearing loss.

    Then again, most of C5’s post on bar/restaurant/brewery/gastro pub (we’ll refer to this as brbgp) openings read more like and or PR from the bar/restaurant/brewery/gastro pub being featured. There’s not one negative iota or critique written about it. These posts would be more trustworthy, reliable, and respectable if a true critique is said or written. So, for example you could write about how brbgp‘s concept probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but in reality it’s a bit silly; that one of several hiccups that a meal or drink from brbgpdoes not glide smoothly because [insert food item here] is limp, and seems like it’s been tossed onto a big, damp heap of unseasoned [insert food ingredient here]. Or a write-up or critique on the service: for example: “servers look like they are shooting their cuffs before fiddling with some small detail of the table setting, which is not in keeping with the graceful, relaxed tone of the cooking, and that the wait staff is seemed eager to oblige, but gave the impression of struggling in the face of unseen encumbrances… But overall it is still worth having a meal/drink at brbgp only because of their superb [insert food or drink item here] and its wonderful staff and mostly because it achieves in its look and feel is impressive. It has an elegance but that doesn’t have any of the heaviness in décor…

    You’re welcome.

    I wish C5 would disclose that C5 or its staff has been paid or gotten some sort of compensation for featuring a business. Really offputting and losing your whatever credibility you have left.

    Yes, I wrote an essay comment. TL;DR. Good afternoon.

    • I think they are catering to clients with air pods so not only will they not be able to hear, they wont be listening to the restaurant staff or the fellow patrons either.

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