I had first had a taste of their Peri Peri Chicken at Barcelos, Khan Market, New Delhi. The heat, the perfectly grilled chicken served with a generous portion of potato wedges sprinkled with peri-peri powder had made me happy, and when I heard that Barcelos was opening up at Acropolis, I jumped at the chance to meet a few friends on the very first day of its opening. However, as luck would have it, I was late for an appointment, and ended up rushing out, so well, I had to leave with grief in my heart, and a mostly empty stomach. So when I went back a second time, I was determined to sample quite a few things from the menu. For those who are unaware, Barcelos is a South Africa-based chain which is known for its Peri-Peri Chicken. I entered the rather spacious, swanky joint, and lowered myself onto a chair, quietly pulling away P’s drink, which was rather pretty to look at.
‘Hey Rosey’ might sound like a pick-up line, but as I am fixated on all things rose, this was a great way to cool off after a rather long, dusty ride to Acropolis. There is a good deal of rose in this drink – in the form of petals and syrup, and a touch of cardamom, that somehow elevates the flavour, and adds a hint of freshness, which can be felt when the ice in the drink starts melting.
The Mezze Platter here is pretty large, with plenty of things to smother, smear, and crunch on. Apart from the regular and peri-peri infused peri-hummus, there’s also baba ghanoush (which was my favourite, smokey and smooth), some tabbouleh, labneh, toasty pita, and my favourite, the perfect falafel – crisp outside, soft and moist inside – you would want these with some pita and hummus, and you are sorted.
Barcelos is known for healthy burgers, and they sent over some of their mini black and red burgers. The burgers are coloured naturally with the addition of ingredients like cocoa or spinach, which lends the colour. I liked the bun – it was rather soft but held itself together well against the onslaught of mayo – I am not a fan of mayonnaise, and there was a bit too much of this, albeit infused with their peri-peri sauce, which smothered the clean flavours of the chicken patty.
The heat lover in me had sampled the table sauces on the very first day, and zeroed in on the supa peri. This peri-peri sauce at Barcelos is quite pleasantly hot, and I specifically requested for breast, because I prefer them over legs, and the hot sauce clinging to the surface of the meat was exactly what I liked – the heat creeps up on you, and before you know it, you are glowing mildly, basking in the eternal sunshine of smug satisfaction as the person to your left huffs and puffs her way through the meat, where, despite being warned, she had added a generous hit of the hottest peri-peri sauce to her already-hot chicken.
I had also asked for some Chicken Picantte, essentially a flattened chicken breast, stuffed with pimento cheese, then grilled and smothered with the seriously hot supa peri sauce. The chicken was tender and juicy, the ricotta cheese and peppers were creamy and mild, and its a light, quick meal for the times when you want something light.
A skewer of chicken was placed in front of us just when we were about to give up. Served with some crisp potato wedges, the Chicken Espetada consisted of chunks of chicken, peppers and onions, and it vanished quickly, the table silently finishing the last of our mains. We were promised Tiramisu for dessert, but after a brief discussion, Blueberry Cheesecake was sent for.
I have a rather terrible weakness towards cheesecake, and although this was a bit too dense for my taste, it did have a nice, tart, blueberry topping, and the crust was crumbly and I might have fed P a bite more than she wanted, because her mouth formed a denial, but her eyes glazed over when she had her first bite of the cheesecake.
Barcelos is here to stay, and an average meal for two is going to cost around INR 1200-1500 before taxes. It is open from 11 am to 11 pm, seven days a week, and is soon going to get alcohol license, post which, 21 flavours of sangria would be introduced. I assume I would be returning.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at Barcelos at the invitation of the management.