Barcelona Wine Bar Opens in Inman Park at N. Highland Steel

I was pleased to see that Creative Loafing covered the opening of Inman Park’s new Barcelona Wine Bar, but I had to see for myself what all the hype was about.

Upon arrival to the restaurant, which is located in the N. Highland Steel complex, I was immediately impressed with the warm, inviting atmosphere.  Outside, the seating area mirrors that of an authentic Barcelona cafe.  Small tables line the sidewalk, insulated by freshly planted flower beds – an appearance that flows seamlessly with the surrounding area.  Inside, floor to ceiling reclaimed wood walls are accented with steel and large scale artwork – making for an earthy, modern, comfortable yet sophisticated feel.  There are plenty of tables for those who wish to sample the menu, and a large, marble U-shaped bar perfect for enjoying a glass of wine.  I’m big on atmosphere when it comes to eating out, and this place does not disappoint.

Vivian Bencich of Atlanta’s Square Feet Studio, the architects of Barcelona Wine Bar, happened to be at the restaurant during my visit and spoke with me briefly about how her team worked closely with the restaurant’s owners to bring their vision to life.  She also informed me that the decor was created by local craftspeople – a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to the Atlanta community.

Though I was not able to sample any of the Spanish tapas or enjoy a glass from the restaurant’s extensive collection of Spanish and South American wines during my 1:00 pm visit, I was able to meet Executive Chef Michael Blydenstein who let me know that the restaurant would be opening for lunch in the near future.

Based on my initial visit, which left me with a severe case of paella on the brain, I may not be able to wait for that.  And in true foodie fashion, I have already spent some time previewing the online menu (don’t judge).  Of the many things that caught my eye: Mussels al Diablo, Lobster Risotto and Grilled Hanger Steak with Black Truffle Sauce.  I also have my eye on several of the vegetable tapas and will be enjoying at least one of the decadent cheese plates – not to mention the flan I will be ordering for dessert – regardless of whether or not I have “room.”

By the way, if you decide to check it out, word on the street is that a reservation is a must.   And if you do go, let us know what you think.  What was your favorite dish?   Which wines did you try?

Celebrating the Design of Downtown Atlanta

Atlanta Magazine is hosting the contest for the Atlanta Downtown Design Excellence Award (ADDEA), which honors downtown businesses for their design innovations. Looking through the contestants, it’s easy to see why downtown is celebrating a renaissance.

At Decatur Street and Piedmont, the new Parker H. Petit Science Center at Georgia State University combines both beauty of design and state-of-the-art teaching technology, establishing GSU as a leading research university. At 191 Peachtree Tower, the new law offices of Hall Booth Smith & Slover combine exceptional style with a commitment toward genuine sustainability. Also at 191 Peachtree is Cooper Carry, a sustainable architecture and design firm that designed its new offices to be modern, attractive, and extremely environmentally friendly. And Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta’s Hughes Spalding Pavilion was renovated to be more welcoming for its young patients and improve service.

SunTrust’s new Enterprise Information Services building on Peachtree cut down on unused space, increasing efficiency for the company and its workers. On Poplar Street, the U. S. General Services Administration Federal Office Building managed to combine beauty and practicality, all while remaining compliant with federal requirements.

In the middle of Centennial Olympic Park, Googie Burger slings fresh burgers, fries, shakes and more from its 50s-futuristic style building without impeding traffic flow. Grindhouse Killer Burgers at Sweet Auburn Market (an Old Fourth Ward institution) also serves delectable burgers, this time from a horror-movie-themed counter built from reclaimed tongue and groove boards from the old Pencil Factory. One of the new darlings of the Old Fourth Ward, The Sound Table, located on Edgewood, was nominated for its rich, mid-century modern decor.

Event space Ventanas on Baker Street was named after the Spanish word for “windows,” and you can see why with its 270-degree view across downtown Atlanta. Located unsurprisingly at 200 Peachtree Street, 200 Peachtree is an event, retail, and restaurant space resulting from the renovation of an old department store into an elegant multi-purpose landmark. Sheraton Atlanta‘s updated style and renovation allows for the Courtland Street hotel to better accommodate guests who find themselves downtown.

Located within 200 Peachtree, Meehan’s Public House Downtown brings an Old World pub feel to intown with refurbished and salvaged items from around the globe, including a 35-foot-long cherry wood bar. Edgewood Avenue’s Pizzeria Vesuvius went from run down to remarkable in a breaktaking salvage operation that mirrors the rebirth of the Old Fourth Ward.

Go vote for your pick to win at Atlanta Magazine’s Downtown Design Awards 2010 and revel in the continuing intown Atlanta renaissance…we just keep getting better!