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STL Reviews -- Truffles, BARcelona

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STL Reviews -- Truffles, BARcelona

SmallCap | Apr 7, 2004 09:16 PM

Had the opportunity to dine at both of these locations in St. Louis last week -- Truffles in Ladue, & the new tapas addition to the Clayton scene, BARcelona.

BARcelona was (at least to me) everything that befits a tapas bar -- loud, busy, crowded, chaos (if a little in need of more a/c). I'd read reviews which said there are much better (& better-priced) tapas choices in StL, & that may be true, but I found BARcelona to be delightful. There were interesting specials, a good mixture of meats, carbs, & vegetables, & a few more-traditional entrees as well. They could use a few more tapas frias (cold) to go along with the vast selection of tapas calientes (hot), but there were several salads, & surprisingly, a good variety of desserts. The bread pudding (of which I'm not normally a fan) was to die for. The wine list was mostly in keeping with the theme -- primarily Spanish, Chilean, etc., & not at all expensive. We found the proprietor himself (an entertaining Austalian) & his staff to be outgoing, fun, & very efficient. They truly made us feel like beloved guests & new friends! All in all, BARcelona was a hoot.

Truffles was as different as different can be... the interior is very subdued & serious, as is the staff, as are most of the patrons... we were easily the only diners under the age of perhaps 60, although part of that is doubtless Ladue's demographic itself. Their wine list (should I say "book"?) is deserving of the Wine Spectator award it received, & nearly every staff person we spoke with was as knowledgeable as a sommelier. The menu is mostly traditional (roasted chicken, one or two fish, meat loaf, rack of lamb, veal, etc.) -- more American than Continental, with standard sides & veggies -- & very substantial & heavy, although not necessarily in a negative way. The food prices are reasonable considering the establishment (most entrees in the $18-$22 range), although that is doubtless countered by the price of the wine list. Overall, it was a decent "fancy night out" experience, although it didn't blow me away enough to make me return for a while... not considering the vast variety of choices in the area.

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