***Barioja is no longer open***
Barioja is a Spanish bar and cafeteria located in Edinburgh’s Historic Old Town, serving traditional Spanish tapas. Iggs, its sister restaurant next door serves finer sophisticated Spanish cuisine and has been awarded a Rosette. I had a groupon voucher for five tapas and two glasses of wine so I thought what better way to try a tapas bar.
The restaurant instantly has a very open and chilled atmosphere. With windows floor to ceiling, round tables and chairs and a spiral staircase leading down to another part of the restaurant. We were greeted by a waiter who took us downstairs to our table. The downstairs had a darker more sophisticated feel but cooler than upstairs and on a hot day I was grateful.
We ordered five different tapas and bread to start. The waitress was able to give us good advice and recommendations even though it was her first day! Our glasses of Rioja arrived with our bread. The bread could have been fresher it was slightly stale. Also described on the menu as a selection of breads and olive oil, I do not think one type of olive oil and a crusty baguette quite fits.
Our first dish arrived, deep fried cruzcampo beer batter hake served with a salsa Verde mayonnaise. This was my choice and it was not a great one. The fish was slightly overcooked and there was no real taste in the mayonnaise. On a positive note the batter was crispy.
Two dishes arrived next, quesos fritos and chorizo a la sidra. These were both very tasty. Quesos fritos was breaded tetilla cheese that oozed out when you cut into it. Served with a tomato and basil sauce. The sauce gave a tangy sweet flavour to the creamy hot cheese.
The chorizo a la sidra was simple chorizo with cider and peppers. The natural oils from the chorizo along with the cider gave this dish a sweet and spicy taste. Now the bread was put to good use to soak up these beautiful flavours.
Calamares is a dish that is often cooked wrong. Squid has to be cooked to perfection. This crispy deep fried squid was, however lacking in seasoning. The lemon and lime mayonnaise again lacked flavour tasting more of a plain mayonnaise. Once we added extra salt this dish improved dramatically.
Alongside this we also had slow cooked pork in cider and mushrooms. The pork was melt in your mouth. Soft and succulent pork with braised mushrooms to give an earthiness to the sweet sauce.
Even though this would have been enough we still had a few other dishes we wanted to try. We ordered two more,Croquetas Ibericas and Pollo espanol. Both chicken dishes but very different. Croquetas Ibericas were chicken and iberico ham croquets, however they had too much potatoes in them and not enough chicken or ham. This was served with a mushroom and tarragon sauce which was very thick. I also felt there wasn’t enough of it. All together a very heavy dish.
We saved the best until last. The Pollo espanol dish was delightful. Spiced chicken with prunes, olives and capers. The chicken fell apart when cutting into it. Very tender, moist and succulent. The saltiness from the capers alongside the sweetness of the prunes and slight bitterness from the olives was a perfect match alongside the cooking juices of the chicken.
Overall Barioja is a very relaxed friendly Spanish bar/ cafeteria. Not all of the dishes were great however there was certainly a few that we would definitely go back for. The staff were friendly and made you relaxed. This is a perfect place for a catch up with friends or a laid back lunch.
Bill for two: £54 (Calculated without voucher)
Food: Spanish Tapas
Atmosphere: Busy, authentic Spanish
Overall: 7/ 10