As a bit of a midweek treat (and to wash away some of these January blues), Andrew and I headed to Barceloneta in Clarendon Park. Barceloneta is a Spanish restaurant that has been serving traditional mediterranean-style dishes and tapas such as paella and sangria since 1990.
Walking into Bar Dos Hermanos (part of Barceloneta), you almost feel transported to someplace a bit warmer than the cold, dark Leicester street you just stepped off of. The walls of this Cuban-American style bar are painted in bright colors and hanging from the ceiling are various pieces of art, plants and chandeliers. We took a seat in one of the big, comfy sofas and had a pre-dinner drink in the bar to soak it all up before heading across the hallway to the restaurant. For a cold Wednesday night, the bar definitely had a nice buzz to it.
Once in the restaurant, we were seated near the window under rows and rows of stacked Spanish wines. Again, the restaurant has a really lovely, Spanish vibe without feeling kitschy or contrived.
I had emailed Barceloneta a few months ago ahead of a dinner with fellow foodie bloggers, so I knew which dishes were vegan or could be made vegan. The dishes we opted for included garlic mushrooms, vegetable paella, chickpeas and spinach, stuffed aubergine without cheese and potatas bravas without mayo.
Each dish was incredibly flavorful, but for me the two dishes that really stood out were the vegetable paella and the chickpeas and spinach. The paella was seasoned really well and cooked to perfection, and came with big chunks of vegetables including tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, peppers, onions and mushrooms.
The chickpeas and spinach was my other favorite dish – served with slightly crunchy onions and cooked in a blend of cumin, garlic, coriander, chilies and herbs, it had a smokey flavor that reminded me of a burning wood fire in a ski resort. That may be a weird description, but trust me on this, it tasted divine.
Andrew’s favorite dish was the aubergine – which was stuffed with small chunks of various vegetables and cooked in mild spices. He enjoyed the flavors as well as the fact that it felt like a really light, healthy dish.
Barceloneta is a great restaurant for vegans and vegetarians, and highly recommended if you want to go somewhere to escape the gloomy winter weather for an evening.
You can visit the Barceloneta website here.