One month ago Eyhab “Happy” Hatab quietly took over the executive chef position vacated by Shane Devereux at Barcelona Wine Bar in Inman Park. In a short time period, Hatab has since changed the restaurant’s menu, as well as its approach to cooking.
“I really love simplicity. It makes so much more sense to focus on high-quality ingredients that stand out in the food,” he says. “I’m old school.”
With that in mind, he’s focusing more on charcuterie pickling and roasted meats and fish. He’s particularly proud of the corned beef tongue with radish confit, sweet potato hash, and organic maple syrup with smoked paprika. He says his charred broccoli is also selling well.
Aside from the ever-rotating selection of meats and cheeses, Hatab changes two or three menu items every two days. He and his team even render fats from the animals they cook with and make pies using lard.
Hatab learned to cook in his family’s restaurants in Egypt before studying at Johnson & Wales University.
“The Mediterranean is very similar on both coasts. Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco use the same ingredients as Italy, but the South is more spice oriented, while the North is more herb oriented,” he says. “It’s all the same. We all have the same influences. It’s just different preparations.”
Hatab is no stranger to the Barcelona Wine Bar empire, and in 2009 he worked for its Norfolk, Conn. location before moving to Philadelphia to work at Judy Wicks’ White Dog Café. However, when the opportunity opened up in Atlanta, he was eager to move to the South and get back to Barcelona’s Spanish style.
“It’s going to take some creativity to get out of the box of shrimp and grits. We want to present the same ingredients but with a Spanish feel," he says. "We don’t want to take that identity away from Barcelona, but we want Atlanta to be comfortable with it."