I don’t know how popular squid-ink paella negra will end up being among the eager new Spanish aficionados mobbing Barça 18, but right now everyone seems to be having a good time. On the evenings I visited, there were groups of merry bankers in the crowd, ladies at the bar hoisting brightly colored specialty drinks to the sky, even a gentleman eating dinner with a wireless Bluetooth telephone affixed to his ear. Unlike at, say, Le Bernardin, where dishes are preened over and examined, everything at Barça 18 is designed to facilitate this festive, loose party mood. So it follows that the desserts are expedient, achingly sweet, and often spiked with alcohol. One of my favorites was the mascarpone, shaped in melting little portions and served with chocolate-rum ice cream. Mascarpone isn’t quite a Spanish invention, of course—it’s Italian. In the flamboyant Hollywood world of Mr. Hanson, that’s probably close enough.
Address:225 Park Ave. S., nr. 18th St.; 212-533-2500
Hours: Lunch, Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner, Sunday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, until 1 a.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $5 to $12; entrées, $18 to $28.
Ideal Meal: Salt-cod fritters, oxtail or swordfish, churros.
Note: The specialty cocktails aren’t very special, but the wine list, comprising many Spanish bottles, is curiously measured and well priced.