Food Issue - Around the world: Spain

Krog Bar's small space big on European chic

Thursday October 21, 2010 04:00 am EDT

The tiny, shoebox-shaped building that houses Inman Park's Krog Bar channels everything there is to love about the cobblestone alleys of Seville.

The place glows with amber light, which, coupled with the heavy use of polished wood, lends Krog Bar a lodge-like vibe. But rather than succumb to the kitchy European cliché that any posh Spaniard would spurn, Krog Bar has a decidedly modern bent. The room's warm light is cast off not by a fireplace — or those fake-orange flickering candelabras — but by suspended glass orbs. And that polished wood isn't accented by curly-cue wrought iron, but by sleek industrial steel and wide panes of glass.

The simple menu, composed of the expected meats and cheeses, as well as a few surprises, is the brainchild of super-chef Kevin Rathbun, whose eponymous restaurant is located across the alley (um, parking lot). Spanish influences are strong, from little dishes of Marcona almonds and boquerónes to plates of billowing, paper-thin Serrano to a cheese tasting made up of Manchego, Valdeón and Idiazabal. There are small menus of finger sandwiches and raw plates, too, as well as the not-to-be-missed dark chocolate bruschetta with olive oil and sea salt.

Then there's the wine. The affordable list of predominantly Spanish vineyards (with some Italians thrown in for good measure) is concise and well-organized, with friendly, direct descriptions ("aromatic Pinot Noir," "bricklike burly Cab," "dry melony white"). The list makes it easy — perhaps too easy — to sample the region's renowned winemakers, &emdash;a potentially time-consuming activity given the loveliness of the surroundings.

Krog Bar is best visited after dark (what self-respecting Sevillan eats before 10 p.m.?), when the lights are low, the romance high, and the doors flung open to accept the night breeze

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