There's a new menu at Bar Celona
Chef Josef Centeno left Lot 1 in Echo Park in July, with the aim of opening his own place, but meanwhile, he has spent the last month consulting at Bar Celona in Pasadena. The menu, which was more "Old Town" than truly Spanish-inspired, has received an overhaul.
Now there are Catalan-inflected dishes such as charred Padrón peppers with Spanish sea salt and a version of pan con tomate (toasted bread rubbed with garlic and tomato, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt). Here the pan con tomate is served with salbitxada sauce -- this one with hazelnuts, baby pear tomatoes, sherry vinegar, lemon juice and zest, and parsley.
"Spanish cuisine has been a fundmanetal part of my cooking," says Centeno, who still is planning to open his own restaurant. "But these are a modern take on classic dishes with really fresh ingredients."
Other tapas are crispy eggplant with honey and spiced yogurt; whipped salt cod and potatoes (bacalao); tortilla española; pork shoulder conserva; and Spanish flatbreads with basil, mint, Manchego and figs....
The dinner menu includes olive oil-marinated Spanish tuna with fennel and Granny Smith apples and an aromatic seafood stew with bass, mussels, clams and saffron.
And the dessert menu now, thankfully, features crema Catalana (Catalan custard with a caramelized crust) -- along with chilled cinnamon rice pudding with candied pecans and caramel and a bittersweet chocolate mousse with olive oil and Spanish sea salt. There's a reason why Colman Andrews quotes Eliane Thibaut-Comelade in his book "Catalan Cuisine": "El català es llaminer" -- "The Catalan is fond of sweets."
Bar Celona, 46 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 405-1000.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo of quail stuffed with tart cherries, apricots, chorizo and roasted figs (foreground) and Spanish flatbreads by Josef Centeno