This past weekend I tried the North Raleigh location of Tasca Brava with a party of four, never having been to their original Cary location. While sitting at the empty bar awaiting another couple, I was intrigued by the electronic sign with the scrolling banner, "Proud followers of the slow food movement."
Once we had been seated, our server reiterated this "slow food" point and made it clear that certain dishes take some time, and that we should be patient and enjoy ourselves along the way. I am all for that, but I felt that the service staff took advantage of our patience on several occasions, as our water glasses sat empty, and dishes were left uncleared too often during the course of the meal.
There were a few other things I did not love as well. The incorporation of so many Latin American dishes into the menu seems to be the case in all "Spanish" restaurants I've been to in the States; we were served fried plantain chips rather than bread to start the meal. Most of these dishes are not served as tapas, but rather as smaller plates; again a common theme here. I wished the Spanish cheese, ham and chorizo sampler had included more ham, and the overtly lemony salmon carpaccio was not a big hit at our table.
Now on to what I did love. Our server (who is also the owner) was very knowledgeable about the wine list and guided us to two delicious bottles of Rioja, in addition to being very entertaining without imposing on our meal. The sampler may have been light on ham, but was loaded with delicious Spanish cheeses. The champinones al ajillo were excellent, and included some crispy bits of serrano for added flavor. The tortilla was delicious and brought back happy memories of my senora in Sevilla. Tasty croquetas de bacalao were accompanied by possibly the best fried eggplant I've ever had. Two specials, the moorish chicken skewers and wild boar empanadas were both very enjoyable, while the flan to finish the meal was exceptional.
Despite leaving quite full from the numerous dishes we had tried, the check was a little larger than I hoped for "tapas." All in all, however, it was a pleasant experience, and I will go back.
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