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    Though "Patatas Bravas"are just one small plate among many offered at tapas bars, they hold a high place in Spanish gastronomic lore here, beloved by everyone from students to gourmet chefs. 

    Patatas Bravas look like not much more than glorified French fries: Cubes of potato are fried and served with two sauces, one red and spicy and the other white and infused with garlic, called allioli in Catalan.

    But they aren't so simple as they appear, argues Mr. Serena. "All of the great chefs experiment with the bravas,"he says.