Restaurant Review: Café Barcel

From extravagant entrées to dreamy desserts, Nyack’s Café Barcel offers fine fare with a Spanish accent


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bunuelosHappy ending: Fresh buñuelos with chocolate ganache — a dessert so good, it often sells out

In addition to the mouthwatering cuisine, Café Barcel has several other things going for it. First, half of the proceeds from sales of the paintings benefit the Rockland Family Center for Battered Wives and Children. Second, it’s open on Monday nights, as well as Sunday for brunch, where the fare includes strawberry cheesecake French toast and eggs Benedict with asparagus. Third, they use local produce, and one of the tap beers — Defiant — is from a microbrewery in nearby Pearl River. Finally, it’s two blocks from the Thruway on-ramp: really easy to find, even if, like us, you aren’t familiar with the Nyack byways.

For dessert, my wife opted for fresh buñuelos with chocolate ganache, while I chose the cheesecake crêpes with fresh strawberries, toasted almonds, and balsamic honey. As delicious as the crêpes were — the cheesecake was the perfect consistency, and the almonds and honey complemented each other wonderfully — the buñuelos were... Insert your favorite superlative here; words fail me.

A buñuelo is a Spanish doughnut — although the word we normally associate with a fast-food coffee chain does not do justice to what was brought to our table, piping hot, piled in a basket, wrapped lovingly in white cloth, and coated with sugar. These were not doughnuts. They were beignets. No, more than that. They were gourmet zeppoles. Let me say that again: gourmet zeppoles. If I lived closer to Nyack, I would come to Café Barcel just to feast on these treats.

pan seared mozzarella speidiniFare with flair: Café Barcel’s popular pan seared mozzarella speidini with white anchovy and caper sauce

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Alice Gabriel, in her glowing review in the New York Times (which I didn’t read before my meal, although there is a framed copy by the front door), invests three of her nine paragraphs on the buñuelo.

“We sell out of those,” Alexander says. “It’s unbelievable.”

The brunch menu, incidentally, offers a different twist on the buñuelo. During the day, the doughnut is coated in confectionary sugar, instead of the usual kind, and comes with vanilla custard instead of chocolate ganache for dunking.

The only problem with our dessert was that the buñuelos were so good, the chocolate ganache was superfluous. We didn’t dunk the hot dough in chocolate. Instead, we savored the buñuelos, and when we were done, I polished off the ganache like it was a soup — a warm, thick, chocolaty soup.

And that was the only flaw in the entire dining experience: a surfeit of chocolate. Which, of course, is really not a flaw at all.

Café Barcel
Open for dinner daily and brunch on Sunday. Appetizers range from $9-$16; entrées from $13-$21; dessert from $8-$10
162 Main St., Nyack 845-535-3133

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