Bites of Westside Fabulous
Latest Barcelona Wine Bar location rounds out Howell Mill’s newest re-use project with the right tapas, sangria and patio to get the gays through the dog days – and beyond.
By Mike Fleming
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the West Midtown revitalization that took a dip with the economy a few years ago is back at full stride. The fervor includes a flock of gay guys gathering in an old ironworks to claim it as the latest hot destination to eat, drink and Be Mary.
But don’t go for that reason. Head over to Barcelona Wine Bar Westside Ironworks because the menu, the staff and the surroundings are fantastic. Not to mention, oh-so-very gay.
A small group of gays headed over there on a recent weekend afternoon for one of the best Sunday Fundays I’ve had in a while. A few stragglers were still drifting out of the place after regular hours for the Food of Our People – brunch – officially ended, so we were able to snag a prime spot on Barcelona’s particularly fabulous garden-style patio.
This summer’s sweltering heat, which had me glistening forth with inner beauty earlier in the day, was tempered by one of July’s typical afternoon confluence of clouds and thunder without any actual rain. Pitchers of perfectly portioned red and white sangrias, plus a flight of three wines for one couple, took care of the rest.
A sister to the Barcelona Inman Park and cousin of Bartaco locations dotting the city, Westside brings its own flair to Atlanta’s dining landscape. It opened in April with the same devotion to great food that its parent company brings to eateries here, in Connecticut, and in the Boston and Washington, D.C., areas.
Before we get to the food, soak in the stellar location. Barcelona takes full advantage of the neighborhood’s latest adaptive redevelopment of its industrial past. It’s the last tenant in the Westside Ironworks building that really did once house an old metalworking factory. It joins O-Ku Sushi and Tom + Chee, as well as fashion retailer Villa Savannah, a Toni & Guy Salon, and design house Dixon Rye in a curated blend of businesses with an eye on high style.
The décor at Barcelona uses midcentury modern twists to capitalize on the original structure’s industrial feel. Natural wood and slate combine with sleek metals and glass. Glass “garage” doors with views of the Midtown skyline create an open-air atmosphere that epitomizes and elevates Atlanta intown living.
Executive Chef Benjamin Meyer heads a kitchen that seems to consistently crank out amazing food and an especially attentive staff. Remembering that we’re in a place named for the City of Dreams, I order an entrée portion from the Spanish paella menu to share. The seafood version is delicious, with generous chunks of prawns, clams, mussels and squid. Other options include chicken, vegetable, as well as a Southern iteration with crawfish, sausage, frogs legs and shrimp.
Now about those tapas. Not one passed my lips that I didn’t care for. Priced from $6.50 to $13.50 each, the bill does stack up, but it’s worth it. Rotating options on our lucky day included spinach-chickpea cazuela, Scallops a la Plancha, melt-in-your-mouth hangar steak, potato with aioli, Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp), goat cheese with mojo verde, and my favorite, spiced beef empanadas.
Desserts are also served as small plates, so try several. As one who limits carbs and sugar for sport, I deemed this a special occasion in order to sample churros y chocolate, crepes, chocolate hazelnut indulgence, and panna cotta. Worth every panting second of extra cardio.
Staying on the pulse of what’s hot and happening among the lads who lunch – and dinner, and brunch – has never been so delicious.
Want to go?
What: Barcelona Wine Bar Westside Ironworks
Where: 1085 Howell Mill Road NW
When: M-F 4 p.m. – 1 a.m., weekends 11 a.m. – midnight with brunch 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.