There are a few schools of thought when it comes to ‘make your own’ Bloody Mary bars- those who love them and those who hate them. Personally, I’ve never experienced a Bloody Mary bar that wowed me. I can’t help but ask why anyone would pay money at a restaurant to have to make your own anything. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of going out? In most cases the answer is yes. However, at Barcelona in Stamford, CT I recently had a change of heart. They raise the bar on Bloody bars!
Barcelona is a Spanish inspired tapas bar that Brett and I have been patrons of for years. We love going on Sunday nights to take advantage of their half price bottles. We order tapas and drink red wine- it’s a perfect way to ‘wine’ down the weekend. Years worth of Sunday dinners and we JUST discovered that they serve Sunday brunch!!! I guess we just never considered it a brunch spot and that was a huge mistake. I feel robbed of excellent brunch for years. I’ll be honest- I’m struggling with the loss even as I write this.
I don’t know whether to write about the food or the Bloody Mary bar first- both were first rate, top notch, beyond expectations- in other words…exactly right. Brunch should be delicious. Bloody Marys should not disappoint. (Ok- brunch should have live music too, but I’ve yet to find a place that wins them all, so for now- 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.)
I’ll speak quickly to the food itself. It was great. We ordered the Plancha Omelette with herbed goat cheese and mushrooms (the tiniest baby mushrooms I’d ever seen!) and the Eggs Benedict. I have nothing to say beyond it was delicious. I look forward to tasting all the other brunch options in the very near future.
Now let’s get down to business about this Bloody Mary bar that blew my mind! My first approach was a total failure- I was overly excited by all the garnish options and basically just made a mess. I slurped that first one down fast so that I could get a second chance at this- this time with a strategy in place. I went back up with the plan to execute my base first, then taste for seasoning, then finally, go nuts with garnish. The second time was a total success. For making the base, they offered tomato juice, V8 & clamato juices. Seasonings included, but were certainly not limited to, fresh horseradish, salt, pepper, powdered onion, celery salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, worcheshire sauce, A1 sauce, 15 or so hot sauce varieties, Tabasco sauce, (no- it’s not the same thing!) lemon juice, lime juice and more. Moving onto garnish is where things got interesting. Options included horseradish pickles, green olives, lemon, lime, white anchovies, cucumber sticks, celery sticks, pickled asparagus, carrot wedges, bacon, prosciutto, roasted piquillo peppers, sliced fresh jalapeño, pepperoncini peppers and manchego cheese.