Description: Spanish Tapas bar in the South End, Boston.
A friend and I hit up this much hyped tapas bar in the South End on Friday evening. Having traveled extensively in Spain, I have eaten a lot of tapas in my life. Additionally, my favorite restaurant in Philadelphia, Amada, is a well known tapas restaurant. Needless to say, I like my tapas and had high expectations for this place. We arrived at around 6:30pm and put our names down. Like many smaller hotspots, there are no reservations here and the hostess quoted us a 75 minute wait. The bar seating area, however, was fair game. In fact, after only around fifteen minutes, my eating companion and I were able to snag a corner spot at the bar. The interior of the restaurant can be described as industrial chic with exposed metal piping, brick walls, and large sheets of hammered bronze hanging where mirrors or painting would usually go. In fact, the interior along with the hip and international crowd made me feel like I had left Boston and been transplanted to NYC or San Francisco.
I ordered a rose to start – it was dry and crisp, a fine way to whet my appetite. We ordered the following: tuna tartare, garlic shrimp, pork belly, short ribs, bone marrow, and whole salted bass.
Tuna Tartare: Instead of the usual avocado, this tuna tartare uses coconut milk as the fatty element which brought an unique and unexpected dimension to this standard dish. The tuna itself was fresh and tender. Served with two toasted and oiled pieces of hearty bread. A dish I would reorder.
Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo): Although this dish was tasty with tender poached meat and a nice sauce that was creamy yet zesty, I was disappointed that it came with the heads removed. In Spain, this dish would have most certainly have been prepared with the succulent heads of the shrimp attached.
Pork Belly: Dry and not flavorful throughout except for the crispy skin. Would not reorder.
Short Ribs: Like the pork belly, very underwhelming.
Bone Marrow: Decent, uses a hunks of citrus fruit to brighten the flavor. Thin slices of radish enhanced both the appearance and complimented the heavy marrow well. B- in terms of marrow preparation as the flavor of the actual marrow was only so-so.
Whole Salted Bass: The only real winner in my opinion. The meat was perfectly flaky and flavorful, thanks to the plethora of whole garlic pieces and rosemary stuffed inside the fish. Olive oil and coarse sea salt served on the side wonderfully brought out the fresh flavor of the fish.
I also had a glass of the cava NV Flare Moscatel which is supposed to have hints of “stone fruit and honeysuckle.” This knocked it out of the park. Fresh and fruity without being sweet, this was one of the best cavas I’ve ever had.
Conclusion: Great place for drinks, seafood, and ambiance. I would skip the meat dishes.