Barcelona Wine Bar is known for its ?aesthetics. Describe the interior and decor.
AP: We have a very high design quotient, and spend a lot of money on each location’s design elements. As a result, we’ve won many ?architectural awards. We incorporate our own artwork and build our own furniture in each location. My partner, Sasa Mahr-Batuz, is the designer. Our locations range from 3,500 to 7,000 square feet, with the back of house comprising about 45 percent of the space.
FE&S: These dishes emphasize authentic preparation. What types of equipment support the production of the items?
AP: All dishes are cooked to order. We used to use sauté pans more, but we’ve moved away from that and gone with traditional Spanish planchas. Not only is this more authentic, but there are fewer pans to clean. In addition to the 18- to 24-burner plancha, the cooking battery includes fryers, a 6-burner stove and charbroiler. Our kitchens also include a cold tapas station that puts out food separately. We do a large amount of meat and cheese platters, which are prepared with antique slicers. Separate prep areas include mixers for preparing empanadas from scratch.
FE&S: The menu has a traditional theme. What is the inspiration for the dishes?
AP: We offer a classic Spanish tapas bar menu, which includes a lot of small plates created for sharing. A third of the dishes change every day, depending on the ingredients our chefs find in the market. Our staples are paellas, a grill board, vegetables and fish. The best sellers depend on the location, but popular dishes include patatas bravas, with spicy tomato sauce and aioli; gambas al ajillo with shrimp, garlic, sherry and hot pepper; grilled hanger steak with black truffle vinaigrette; and chicken pimientos, which includes roasted potatoes, lemon and hot peppers.
FE&S: What equipment is most integral to your operation?
AP: The plancha, six-burner stove and charbroiler are used the most. We look for equipment that provides speed of service, which includes high heat. Durability is most important with our refrigeration units.
FE&S: You changed up the production process with the addition of planchas. Are any other adjustments planned for the back of house?
AP: There’s a grill out of Spain that we’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate into our locations, but we’ve run into issues with local codes. It’s a fairly new two-sided wood-burning charbroiler that would help support items ?prepared on the six-burner stove.
FE&S: The Mediterranean segment has benefitted from the focus on healthful eating and fresh ingredients. How do you stay on top of today’s trends?
AP: We don’t pay attention to trends, because we’re staying true to how tapas has been ?prepared in Spain for hundreds of years. ?The challenge is to do it well.
FE&S: As you come upon this concept’s 20-year anniversary in 2016, what are your plans for the future?
AP: We plan on opening more restaurants as we find sites. We’re in the process of opening second locations in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and will have sites in northern Virginia and Florida by the end of next year.