With a hip and lively environment, the Barcelona restaurants have consistently offered bold cuisine, inspired by the Iberian Peninsula accompanied with some of the best drinks and Sangria in the area. Each location adheres to the basic premise that a visit to Barcelona must combine great fun with great food. To continue in this tradition, Barcelona (SONO) recently introduced its new Executive Chef Wayne Homsi. Fresh from his culinary journey throughout Spain, CTbites stopped by to sample Chef Homsi’s new additions to the Spring menu.
Chef Wayne graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and joined The Waldorf Astoria Hotel where he became the youngest sous chef in its history. He subsequently worked at Picholine and then became the opening sous chef at its sister restaurant Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro in New York. He next joined Il Barilotto as Executive Chef and Partner in 2002 before joining Barcelona SONO earlier this year.
The menu at Barcelona offers “Meat + Cheese,” “Tapas” plus a few smatterings of “Paella,” “Meat + Fish” and Mixed Grill.” The Tapas contains bar bites and others that are more closely described as small sharing plates.
Each of the three bar bites we sampled presented different flavors and textures. Thefirst was Fried Oysters, served atop a remoulade composed of Piquillo peppers and shallots. The oysters were lightly dusted and perfectly fried with a crispy exterior while the interior maintained the creaminess of the oysters. The remoulade added a touch of spiciness to each bite. The fried oyster were delicious.
Chef Homsi next brought a plate of Olives wrapped with white anchovies, nestled in olive oil. The mild anchovies worked very well with the large green olives. The last plate was a Baccalà served on toasts. The dried cod was first reconstituted, blended with mashed potatoes, cream, milk and garlic and then spread on toasts. To finish the dish, Chef Homsi quickly broiled the fish-topped toasts to obtain a slight crust. The end result was a smooth cod spread, offset with the crunchiness of the toasts.
I would place the other two Tapas we sampled in the small shared plate category. The first were Chick Peas that were served with sliced grape tomatoes and accented with a bold combination of red onions, paprika and lemon juice. The combination produced great flavors with al dente texture from the chick peas and a touch of spice from the sauce.
For a lighter option, the Seafood Salad was bright and refreshing. Friseé was topped with marinated mussels, shrimp and calamari, and finished with snap peas and diced tomatoes in a light vinaigrette. The salad delivered fresh, crisp flavors and the marinated seafood was delightful. An unusual and interesting combination was the Charred Green Onions, which were served with a coulis of tomatoes, almonds and olive oil. The pungency of the onions was accented by the sweet brightness of the tomatoes and delivered an interesting flavor profile but was not my favorite.
The Lamb was a standout and one of the best I have tasted. Chef Homsi first coated the lamb loin filets with ground dried porcini mushrooms, then slowly roasted. The fillets sat in a dollop of spring onion purée and topped with frazzled, crispy shallots. The lamb was delicious, mild in flavor and then beautifully complemented by the deep, earthiness of the ground porcini dust. The purée offered a level of pungency to the flavors and then the crispy and sweet fried shallots added another flavor profile to this presentation. This was an excellent dish.
We sampled several fish entrées; my favorite was the Skate. In another unusual twist, Chef Homsi paired this lightly breaded and perfectly fried fish with a mushroom sauce and topped the fillet with oyster mushrooms and edamame. The earthiness of the mushroom sauce was a delightful complement to the mildly sweet skate and the oyster mushrooms were wonderful and added an earthy background. The edamame enhanced the visual appeal of the dish as well as added a touch of sweetness. The other two entrées suffered a bit from seasoning.
The Octopus was first boiled, seasoned and then grilled on the flattop. It was served with oil-cured black olives plus shaved artichoke. The olives and the artichokes, which offered light, citrusy notes to the octopus, but was a bit salty and over-seasoned.
The Halibut was served with sweet peas in a pool of sweet pea purée with a hint of mint. The fish was beautifully prepared cooked to maintain a moist interior, but the fish was under-seasoned and the flavors of the peas and purée did not contribute any contrast to the mildness of the fish.
Desserts were excellent; be sure to save room for a fabulous culmination to your dinner. There are two that should not be missed. The Chocolate Mousse starts with 56% milk chocolate and then combined with cream, egg yolks, and a little salt. The texture was smooth and velvety, with a luscious chocolate flavor. It was served with very thinly sliced and toasted bread, which brought just a touch of crunch to the chocolaty richness. The second dessert was the Vanilla Flan. This might be the best flan I have ever tasted, the flavor and texture were a crème brulée on steroids, with deep vanilla flavor, and incredible velvety texture, accented with a delightful caramel sauce. This is a must order dessert.
Overall, new Spring menus offers an insight into the new and creative recipes that Chef Wayne will bring to Barcelona (SONO).
63 N Main St · Norwalk · Directions
- Fried Oysters
- Chocolate Mousse
- Vanilla Flan
- Chick Peas
- Seafood Salad
Did Not Like
- Charred Green Onions