So for my birthday, I decided we needed to graze; we went to Ole Tapas, on Ventura and Longridge in either Sherman Oaks or Studio City -- not sure which town it is. It's in the space that used to be occupied by Tournesol.
We went at 18.30 and the place was pretty much empty -- a group of the Sherman Oaks Desperate Housewives Club, but that was it.
Within thirty minutes -- on a Monday, mind you -- it was jammed full.
I had a glass of red sangría and a glass of white, and my wife and I shared the placa caliente (hot mixed tapas), the cod-and-orange salad, and the halibut carpaccio with lavender-lychee sauce. For dessert we had a mamía (goat cheese custard with seasonal fruit) and a turrón (nougat).
The red sangría was far superior to the white -- far less sugary and it tasted as though some hibiscus had made its way into it. They get points for selling it by the glass ($5) as well as by the pitcher ($22, I think, but you get a huge pitcher).
The placa caliente had "patatas bravas", which are roasted potatoes with thickly-sliced fried Serrano ham, onions, garlic and aïoli; setas y alcachofas, sautéed mushroom and artichokes with some onion confit; two balls of fried goat cheese with honey; and fried calamari in chili-garlic sauce. It was all very good, though we preferred to dunk our calamari in the aïoli. It wasn't overly salty, which is my complaint about a lot of tapas.
The halibut was thinly slices and cold. We couldn't really taste the lychee but the lavender was surprisingly good and there was a spicy bite that we couldn't identify.
The bacalao and orange salad was tasty but didn't quite work -- it wasn't as strongly flavoured as the other dishes and so it was kind of lost amongst our other choices.
There were many other dishes, including some main dishes, that we are anxious to try, and it was a very good experience, so we'll be back.
As for the desserts, the turrón was not nougat as I know it, more like a very sugary, very loose custard with nuts and fruit inside and almond-flavoured liqueur on top. It was good but after a while I had to start drinking water to cut the sweetness. The mamía was very, very good -- and would have been even better without the fruit syrup that slightly masked the unique tang of goat's milk. As with the food, there are many desserts we'd like to try, including chocolate fondue and a green-apple sorbet.
The service was a little bit oddly-timed; it seemed like they were short one person, perhaps in the kitchen. The waitstaff were all very friendly, and quite willing to make recommendations, and it fit in very well with a place where the food is really meant to help the drink down.
When the waitress brought our bill, it had two glasses of wine on it that we hadn't drunk. When we pointed it out (politely), she said, "No, that isn't yours, I wonder how that got on there," whisked the bill away, and returned a few moments later with the corrected bill.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely.