Hi all. Hadn't been to Espetus for a couple of months, so I welcomed an invite from friends to join them for dinner this past Saturday night. We had a 6PM reservation for 9 people, and the restaurant was already half-full for such an early time when I arrived. For those who haven't been recently or weren't aware, Espetus has opened up the addition of the space next door. We were seated in the new space, which had its benefits and a pronounced drawback. The benefits are that the new space, though not completely finished (minor cosmetic details that should be finished in the next week or so), has very high ceilings and feels much more airy and roomy than the original space. The drawback is that the circulation of servers (table as well as meat) is not as pronounced as in the original space (especially as my party was seated at the furthest point from the kitchen in the entire restaurant), so getting glasses refilled took longer than usual (often requiring flagging down a server) and certain meat items didn't come around often enough (namely the grilled prawns and the prime rib).
I did notice that there were a number of items in the salad bar that weren't there when I last visited a couple months ago. Two in particular were the hearts of palm and the mozzarella with tomato. The hearts of palm were fine, tasting acceptably fresh and crunchy (though I'll admit I've only eaten them a few times in my life, so I'm hardly an expert). The mozzarella was nothing special, but wasn't horrible either (though I recommend passing on the grape tomatoes in the dish and pair them with the sliced beefsteak tomatoes elsewhere in the salad bar). The seafood paella in one of the chafing dishes was OK, with decent quantities of pork, scallops, mussels and sausage mixed in.
As for the primary attractions (i.e. the grilled meats, prawns and pineapple), it was business as usual for Espetus. I've been there a couple dozen times since they've opened, both for lunch and dinner, and the quality of the various items has been consistent (at times maddeningly). The beef and chicken items were good, lamb was OK, pork with parmesan was dry, prawns very good but didn't show up often enough and pineapple was interesting. In more detail:
* prime rib (I requested and received end cut) tasted great
* top sirloin was very good
* rare beef tenderloin was very rare but needed more seasoning (the vinaigrette with diced peppers from the salad bar perked things up nicely)
* garlic sirloin was not remarkable
* pork tenderloin was moist and reasonably tender
* pork with parmesan was typically overcooked and dry
* chicken thighs were moist, smoky and tasty
* chicken wrapped in bacon was surprisingly good, with the bacon actually fusing to the chicken as if it were skin
* chicken hearts (which I love) were their typically gamy, pseudo-sausagey selves
* lamb spiced with what I think was rosemary was decent
* passed on the lamb loin as I was too stuffed by the time it showed up
* prawns were very good, but we only had 1 apiece the entire time we were there, and only after we repeatedly requested they bring some over
* pineapple was decent
Overall, I'd continue to recommend folks who love grilled meats to dine at Espetus. The wine list has been expanded with the overall markups being reasonable, but the selection isn't particularly thrilling (though it was nice to see Cain Five and Cain Concept on the list, and there's a decent section of tempranillos). The best deal on the wine list, for those with an urge to splurge, is the magnum of '96 Dom Perignon champagne for $260 (basically what retail would be for 2 regular-sized bottles).
We skipped dessert, as everyone was too stuffed after the meatfest. Most everyone had a cocktail, some sangria or a couple beers with their meal. Total per person with tax and tip was $57. Joe Bob says check it out...... ;-D
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