Barca

1007 High Street, Armadale, VIC

All Details
  • 03 9822 8515
  • $$$
The signature slow-braised lamb with pomegranate kicks off a stylish meal.
The signature slow-braised lamb with pomegranate kicks off a stylish meal. Photo: Ken Irwin

Larissa Dubecki

WHERE AND WHAT

Slap-bang in the middle of fashion retail's newly anointed Golden Mile, Barca is a smart little restaurant blessed with the area's good looks without making a song and dance about it. Named after the abbreviation for Barcelona (pronounce it with a soft ''c''), Barca leans towards Spain (and South America) without forgetting about France and Italy. It's got style, just like the rest of this patch of Armadale, and the six-year-old restaurant has just spawned a little pintxos bar, Lona, across the road at 963 High Street.

WHERE TO SIT

Barca's banquettes and handsomely set tables.
Barca's banquettes and handsomely set tables. Photo: Ken Irwin

Think European wine bar meets a sweet little bistro. The main action is in the front room, with banquettes and handsomely set tables, neutral tones and vintage posters and long mirrors opening up the narrow space. A tight cluster of tables up a few stairs towards the bar and kitchen have more of a wine-bar feel, and there's another nicely appointed room upstairs overlooking the street.

WHEN TO GO

Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 3pm; 6pm to late.

DRINK

A nicely nuanced wine list covers a lot of ground (and price points), with a great choice by the glass.

EAT

The signature slow-braised lamb is an entree, unusually - the meat collapsing off the bone, and the super-caramelised crust giving it a mighty shove in the taste department. It heads to Latin America for inspiration, with a zesty chimichurri and jewel-like pomegranate seeds lending a bittersweet kicker. Seared scallops tick-tack with golden fried nuggets studded with jamon, its rustic heart dressed up for the restaurant crowd. Gnocchi that are just a little too dense make amends with a deeply satisfying cold-weather stock-based sauce containing spinach, peas and jamon Serrano, just a hint of truffle oil and a healthy amount of grana padana. Paella comes heaped high on a white plate: it's the posh (and crust-free) version with a Moreton Bay bug tail, some poppingly fresh calamari tentacles, Marchetti's chorizo and prawns and clams in the shell, the rice grains cooked to the correct al dente bite. Finish with the surprising white chocolate mousse, an airy dollop of heaven with passionfruit coulis and honeycomb. It's not the cheapest restaurant in town but there's value in the $35 lunch special (two courses and a glass of wine).

WHO'S THERE

The crowd is smart and suited, with an elegant affection for the pre-dinner aperitif.

WHY BOTHER?

Barcelona goes business class.

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1007 High Street, Armadale, VIC

  • Opening Hours - Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 3pm; 6pm to late.
  • Author - Larissa Dubecki
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