Boqueria is a relatively new restaurant on West 19th between 5/6th Avenues. Tapas. Boqueria is the name of the large food market in Barcelona.
They have really done a great job with the restaurant. The place is hopping. No reservations. A long bar on the left hand side when you walk in. Every table in the place is a high table with stools so that creates an ambiance onto itself. The perimeter has high leather banquettes. The middle area is mostly communal tables. They would have done everyone a favor by putting in much better materials on the ceilings and walls to keep the noise levels down. It is unbelievably loud.
There is a nice wine list and 3 different types of sangria’s (rose, red and white). We opted for the red. Good not great but fun. It comes in a big pitcher and chocked full of small pieces of fruit.
We split a bunch of tapas and went for one main course to split. The first thing that came out of the kitchen were the dates and the peppers. These were the best thing. Dates stuff with an almond, a spanish cheese and wrapped in bacon and roasted. Sweet, rich, awesome combination of flavors exploding your mouth. Truly decadent and I am glad they didn’t give us any more. I would have eaten more than needed. The other thing were the grilled peppers. A variety of green peppers – small, medium, spicy and plain roasted an covered with sea salt. Really good. Pop in your mouth.
The second course that came out was 2 sticks of grilled lamb served over toasts and covered with a lemon cumin parsley garlic mix. Good, not great. The lamb was a bit dry and nothing out of the ordinary. We went for the special that night of boquerones. A plate of 6 anchovies marinated in vinegar. They were really salty and I would have liked to see the vinegar and oil be more intense.
We also tried the baby squid salad. Piece of wild arugula, garbonzo beans, radishes and olives with some small pieces of grilled squid. Definitely not interesting. If the salad would have been loaded with more squid and beans vs. arugula and an tasty vinaigrette, it would have been good.
Jamon Serrano is so good in Barcelona. Many times it is served with scooped out breads that have been toasted and rubbed down with tomatoes and olive oil. This treat is even good at a cheap cafe. Boqueria definitely missed the mark here. The ham was so dry when it should be soft and tasty. The bread was a bit too crisp and the taste of the tomatoes wasn’t even there. Really a bummer.
We tried one of the specials of the evening as a main course to split. Suckling Pig. A big square of suckling pig covered with a crispy piece of skin. The skin wasn’t edible. Very tough. The pork was good but inconsistent. Parts of the square were dry while other pieces were juicy. It was covered with a few pieces of roasted granny smith apple. The pork piece was placed over small roasted root vegetables and potatoes and surrounded with a thick balsamic fig sauce. Again good but not great.
The vibe is very cool in there and very loud. Maybe go back for lunch or maybe not go back at all. It is definitely grooving with the late 20’s early 30 crowd. It might end up being one of those NY restaurants that rock for a few years and then fizzle out. Food wise it is close but not there. It is like they forgot to cross their t’s and dot their i’s but everything else is there. Maybe in time it will be better. The menu is good but the tastes just aren’t good enough.