Happened upon this place last night, was only their second day open, but seems like a reasonable addition to OC dining scene.
The chef is famous, on Top Chef and whatnot, and must have an insane PR team since the place was nearly sold out on their second night ever in a not particularly easy to get to spot (read: zero foot traffic, so everyone in there is there because they heard about the place from someone/somewhere).
I’m afraid I’m not as familiar with Spanish cuisine as I want to be, but the place feels pleasant enough.
I didn’t sample the cocktails, which looked good, but stuck to drinking garancha and sherry. Both were very good, and the pour on the glass of garanacha for $12 was extremely generous.
But really the food is the main wonder, can this place deliver on excellent Spanish cuisine?
Hmm…well they start you off with complimentary corn nuts and almonds, which is a nice touch, though potentially forgettable.
The tapas seem rustic and flavorful for the most part. The simple pan con tomate was an exercise in simplicity: crusty, warm bread with a bit of tomato and olive oil, pretty much just what you’d expect and hope for out of the dish:
The Pulpo a la Gallega was hearty, and bold in flavors. The octopus and sliced potatoes were nearly the same texture, which was kind of interesting. The octopus was, in other words, quite tender, and the dish sang with lavish amounts of pimenton, garlic and coarse sea salt. Intense, robust flavors, and quite a large portion for the price it felt like:
I ordered Callos, but couldn’t get even a half-decent photo with their lighting sadly. It was not a huge portion, but quite hearty. Tripe, tendon, and tongue cooked perfectly with slightly al dente chickpeas. Hearty, earthy, pungent, quite menudo-esque, but a bit funkier. Quite pleasant, and also saw the tomatoes shining through. Probably a good sign that something as delicate as tomato was able to be clearly revealed in different dishes at the place.
We moved on to a decent sized paella, which I eschewed the mariscos for the carne, because they offer blood sausage on it (but sadly not in tapas form). The good news to me is that this paella was RIDICULOUSLY loaded. copious amounts of sour Spanish chorizo, delicate, earthy morcilla, and perfectly crispy, fatty cubes of pork belly surrounded an immaculately spiced leg of duck confit, with dabs of spectacularly garlic-y aioli dotting the dish. There was more meat than rice I believe…and all of the meat was incredibly tasty. The rice also tasted wonderful, but other than a bit of burnt section, I am not sure I detected any socarrat =/ So I suppose it’s a bit of a failure? But if you can live without that element and just see this as like, Spanish fried rice or something, the flavors seemed outstanding. Perhaps they fideua are more worthwhile there?
We had churros and chocolate sauce and olive oil and sherry prune ice cream for desserts. The churros were super yeasty, having the after taste almost of like fishstick batter…somewhat unusual, but the chocolate sauce was intensely viscous and pungent, which almost made up for it. The ice creams were pleasant enough, especially the olive oil in conjunction with the actual glass of sherry I had with it. But desserts overall did not live up to the flavors of the rest of the food for me, perhaps the flan was the better thing to order judging by a companion at the bar’s order.
They offer the super aged iberco de bellota, and a 50+ day aged rib steak. Between the fideua, other tapas, good wine, and the prospect of eating seriously aged steak, I think I will certainly return. For now it seems like very tasty cooking, if not super refined, or necessarily as strictly authentic as their website claims to be, but then again perhaps they are without my knowledge. Plus it was only their second day open.
I do wish they had pintxos though…their soft-opening photos are deceiving as they served a but of highly refined pintxo’s that made them seem different than they are, but the food is still worth checking out. It’s at least a fun place to eat, and the alcohol is enough to get you through the missteps for the most part.
Cost was pretty reasonable, this food fed 3 pretty well, and came out to $35/person including tax and tip. It’s easy to spend that same amount on alcohol though (which I did).
Anyone else been here, or planning to go?