North Oakland and Berkeley have their own share of drool worthy cuisine per square feet. (Bakesale Betty, Pizzaiolo, Commis, Chez Pannise, etc. among many.)
But if it's Spanish tapas that you are craving for while on this side of the bay, the choices are very suprisingly limited. That's why I am so grateful that Barlata is around and thriving.
Barlata is a tiny neighborhood tapas bar in the new Gourmet Ghetto --Temescal. It is across the street from Bakesale Betty and Pizzaiolo, and few doors away from Burma Superstar.
Inside is cozy, dark and charming. The decor is rustic and makes use of Spanish food like a leg of ham and Spanish canned goods to adorn the limited space, and big chalkboard as a menu board. This place is a cute date place. (The place was too dark for photos so I don't have much for show and tell for this review.)
It was a dark and rainy night. Enrique was really craving tapas. It was way too rainy to drive to SF. I thought it was time time to patronize the neighborhood tapas bar which is Barlata.
For tapas we ordered the basic:
a) PATATAS BRAVAS $6: Fried potatoes and aioli. It is hard to mess up fried potatoes. And this small dish came out perfect! The steaming hot big chunks of potatoes were really good but the aioli did not have kick in it.
b) BABY MONTEREY SQUID $8: Pretty much fried calamari with aioli. The squid was soggy and greasy. Once again the aioli was lacking in flavor.
And the exotic:
c) MORCILLA: Grilled blood sausage in chickpea stew. This came with one whole sausage which fiance described as "it's okay." Since I am a seafoodtarian, I could only eat the chickpea stew which I thought was good. tender and flavorful.
As a main dish we had the large SEAFOOD PAELLA $20. This dish came in a paellera pan. I thought this rice dish was very good in terms of flavors and texture. The rice was still firm and not sticky. Nicely spiced with saffron and very flavorful. The mussels and shrimp were did not taste bad but definitely did not taste fresh. It was still a good dish.
What stood out for me was the SANGRIA $8. Almost everytime I see sangria on the menu, I order it. Barlata's sangria is the best I've had so far. The fruit juice and the wine were nicely mixed together. It was sweet enough to my liking and the fruit pieces were not soggy. It was so refreshing that I had 2 glasses! This sangria was a perfect accompaniment to the spicy tapas and paella.
Service was very friendly and efficient. We had two complimentary basket of bread and dipping oil. We ordered a large paella but they mistakenly gave us the small one at first. They apologized profusely, they gave us the large paella but only charge us for the small one. ($15 instead of $20).
Overall, Barlata is not the best tapas around but the food is decent. Since our tapa selections are so limited in North Oakland, I am grateful that we have this "small plates" place in our hood.
Tab: $80 including 2 Pellegrino water ($4 each), tax and 19.5 % tip.
FOODIE GIRL'S OVERALL RATING: 3.5
0 Star: Never again!!! These people should not be in business.
1 Star: Chalk it to bad experience. Live and learn.
2 Stars: Very disappointing but there it has some good things to offer.
3 Stars: It is okay but do not expect much. I will still return.
4 Stars: I like it! I will be singing your praises!
5 Stars: I will be dreaming of you at night!
6 Stars: Perfection (or close to!)