7/08/2013 11:20:00 AM

The Early Word: We Check Out Barlata

Paella and tapas? Yes, please. Austin has been waiting for an authentic Spanish restaurant, and chef Daniel Olivella’s South Lamar outpost of Barlata marks the spot. The restaurant officially opened on July 1, and over the weekend we taste-tested some tapas to bring you the early word.

The Space: Situated on the first floor of a new mixed-use development, the designed interior has that brand new feel to it. Brightly colored tiles and tasteful knickknacks liven up the place, as do murals and industrial-style chandeliers. The room is open and bright, and as with any hot spot these days, there’s a big communal table, situated in the bar area. But there are plenty of other tables for private conversation too, and the vibe is more neighborhood than upscale uptight.

The Food: Don’t be overwhelmed by the menu. Tapas naturally necessitate a lot of choices, and Barlata doesn’t make any exceptions. The menu is divided into latas (food served in a tin can), cold plates, hot plates, entrees and paellas. We liked the charred and tender octopus lata, with fingerling potatoes and a rich adobo sauce. The shrimp with avocado, gazpacho vinaigrette and microgreens provided a refreshing lightness to the meal, and the Swiss chard “Catalana” with pine nuts and raisins was a nice green addition. We were less fond of the gazpacho trio and the pigs’ feet terrine, but the impressively black squid-ink paella with mortar a├»oli and bright green peas won us over.

The Drinks: Think a multipage, carefully-curated wine list as well as beer and interesting craft cocktails. There’s also a whole section devoted to sherry. We went with a cocktail topped with Tempranillo, a refreshing sip before moving on to red wine.

The Crowd: The neighborhood has invaded, to be sure. South Austinites are putting on their best wears and heading to the new hot spot. Be sure to make a reservation.

The Cost: On the pricier side; a drink, several tapas and a paella will run you about $50.

The Details: 1500 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-473-2211


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