Tapas remains the hidden gem of those in the know cool cookies who walk the few footsteps from San Antonio’s vibrant heart for the Tapas terrace ambience of a chic country club. I use the term hidden loosely as it seems everybody has found the talk of the town eatery. It is not safe to expect a table on spec anytime at Tapas – don’t think Tuesday at 10pm guarantees a quiet time as they seem to be busy every night of the week. Better always to book but if you do arrive without a reservation and they can’t seat you immediately the good news is the opening of their new garden cocktail bar on the lower level. Open to diners or for drinks only it is the perfect way to peruse the menu before your food or take savour a long slow drink after your meal.
And what a menu you have to peruse. No question of Tapas resting on the laurels of the last 2 years (laurels that are now reflected on their tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014 award). The favourites are still there, Belly of Pork, Prawns and Chorizo, Tomato and Basil, and yes of course Popeye, you’ll never be at risk of the Spinach, Minced Beef, Cream, Parmesan and Black Pepper favourite that has become Tapas´ signature dish loosing it’s spot on the menu, but now you have a whole new selection of sublime taste sensations vying for your attention.
We started with the new Hummus Tapenade and Tzatziki board that comes with a selection of Olives Crudités and Pitta bread. A perfect alternative to bread and alioli – and so typical of Tapas – kind of similar to bread and alioli, just way better and at 6.95€ for the board plentiful for 2 and sufficient for 3 the price is not dissimilar to the more common, but what we will now always consider inferior local creamy cousin.
Next the Quinoa Salad with celery, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, raisins, onion and cherry tomatoes (6.95€). I’ll have to admit I didn’t know what Quinoa was but a fellow diner described it as somewhere between cous cous and rice – and a feature on every celeb diet. The description is spot on at both levels and reflective of our Host Tony Dikomite´s comment of tapas looking to balance up the menu with more lighter options especially aiming for more dishes with daytime desire.
His business partner Becky told us that this and 6 other equally sumptuous salad selections will be available daytime in larger portions with a fresh squeezed juice for just 10€ – bound to make Tapas the venue of choice before and now also after the party.
Next things get tricky. On any other day I’d have happily told Tapas the Soy and Sesame Tuna skewers were the best addition to their menu over the past 3 years – and that is some accolade surrounded by so many of Dikomite’s dynamite gastro-bites. If the skewers were a song you’d scream TUNE(a)!
However this was that other day and for that reason we have to reserve top billing to what was their special of the day. Not on the menu (though regularly available) The Pork Belly and Scallop with Onion Sauce does not have a carefully crafted chef’s name but who cares? It wins. If Spain has a national Tapas Trade fair they had better look out because the Gringos are coming to show them how it’s done.
It’s been a funny old world for Spain in recent years. After never achieving anything in football at world level they dominated the game totally for 6 years. Their cuisine has increased hugely in reputation over the same period. Brasil 2014 found Spain floundering in football, and Tapas 2014 is now showing them how to do it in small dishes at the centre of the table. Tapas, it’s a British Thing.