Four out of five stars, IMHO, for the Barcelona restaurant in Brookline. Barbara and I went there last night as a change of pace for our anniversary dinner. A major motivator was that we both love Barcelona, the city, and this was the closest we could do.
The food was consistently excellent. As you can probably guess, the focus in this small chain of “Spanish-oriented” restaurants is almost entirely on tapas, so we ordered five small plates: Basque mussels with sofrito, chorizo, and garlic; seared snow peas; hanger steak with truffle vinaigrette; jamón and manchego croquettes with garlic aioli; and mushrooms with herbed goat cheese in balsamic reduction. The hanger steak (see image) was good, and everything else was excellent. We politely rejected the complimentary olives (nothing personal, it’s just that neither of us likes olives). Wonderfully crusty bread came of course with olive oil.
Our server Alexis was excellent.
So why, you ask, after all this, why do I say it only deserves four stars? There’s one small reason and one big reason. The small reason is that the kitchen kept delivering the food much too quickly. The first three dishes came out almost at the same time! We then had to ask Alexis to please tell the kitchen to slow down, which they did. Apparently we were supposed to order one or two items at a time, and then wait to order more, in order to pace the delivery.
The big issue was the noise level: 86 dB according to my sound meter! That’s like a snow blower or a diesel truck, not what you would expect for an anniversary dinner, and loud enough to discourage conversation. Apparently their intended clientele just does not include people in their ’60s and ’70s — in fact, as we looked around, everyone seemed to be in their ’20s and ’30s. I’m sure those folks appreciated the lively vibe, but Barbara and I did not.
Now you’ll want to know the end of the story. First, they took $15.00 off the bill in compensation (of course we still tipped on the original amount); then the manager came over to talk sympathetically with us — and, more importantly, to listen to us. This kind of customer-oriented.service is exactly what every restaurant should strive for. Thank you, Barcelona!