thx for those who posted suggestions for last night, based on my req. we ended up going to cobra lily since it was easily accessible by public transportation for my husband (since we were meeting there and coming from diff parts of town, it allowed us to drive home together). we both love spanish food and tapas, esp since we had a wonderful trip to spain recently, and so it was romantic enough for our anniversary, although it is not a "special occasion" restaurant. i liked the room quite a bit and we were lucky enough to get a table tucked in a corner, so we were out of the fray. there is another, larger table, in a tiny alcove all to itself, which looked very cosy, but it was taken up by about 4 or 6 people -- so, nice to know for going another time w/ friends. i liked the high, tin-tile-look ceiling, the numerous pretty chandeliers over the little wooden tables, the pretty tiled bar. it's nicely decorated, but doesn't seem pretentious or like it's trying to hard.
the restaurant was PACKED and they seemed seriously understaffed for the crowd. i think there must've been a lot more people than they are used to, based on the HUGE crowd at lacma (more on that later) and their proximity to the museum. i think they were really caught off guard. so, due to that, the service was very slow. but, as we were not in any kind of a hurry, it didn't really bother us. in fact, we were sort of amazed at how good our waiter was, under the circumstances. he was very cute (sort of a tiger woods look w/ a great smile), not at all chatty (as he was obviously running around like crazy), sort of serious but very nice at the same time. i think he was just really stressed out. so, when we would ask for something, a lot of time would pass, but then the correct thing would miraculously show up w/out having to ask a 2nd time. he did not forget a single thing. i know that sounds like i'm setting the bar very low, but under the circumstances, it was impressive. i've worked in restaurants and know what it's like to just get slammed like he was, so i was being extra patient and he was remarkably organized. also, all of our food arrived at the perfect temperature, hot when it was supposed to be, so i know that he really had it pretty well under control (they don't hv any heat lamps at the kitchen pass-thru, which you pass by on the way to the restroom).
what we ate:
sweet potato frites. perfectly hot and crisp on the outside, soft on the inside (but pretty skinny cut, so more crispy). came w/ 2 dips -- 1 was like a homemade mayonnaise (sp?) which i did not like -- not much flavor, sort of greasy texture. the other was a roasted chili sort of thing, not too spicy. had a very familiar flavor, but could not place it. i liked this one, but the fries were good on their own.
prawns wrapped in bacon in a cream sauce -- obviously very rich! (for those who might keep track, i generally do not eat meat, but hv a totally weakness for bacon, so i indulge occasionally; i'm not a purist). the prawns were good sized and nice and plumb, not overly cooked, the bacon was crispy, despite the cream sauce. 4 to a serving.
octopus in a cilantro sauce -- wonderful! very true octopus flavor that was enhanced by, but not covered up by, the cilantro sauce which had a little bit of a chunky texture, not too thin. something sweet in there, too, almost like a honey kind of sweet, which set off nicely against the other flavors.
crispy lentils w/ jamon serrano (ok, so i tasted this, too, since the jamon serrano is almost like bacon and just tiny bits mixed in to the lentils). yum. nice texture on the lentils. again, had a little sweetness, but not overpowering.
clams in white wine sauce. very nice. salty and buttery broth. tiny clams (i like them very small). very few unopened shells. they brought us bread for dipping in the broth when we req'd it. large portion of clams, easily enough for both of us w/out having to fight over them.
asparagus w/ manchego and walnut vinaigrette. this one did not stand out as much as the others. the asparagus was maybe slightly overcooked, but not badly. the cheese was melted over them (i was not expecting it to be melted and it didn't work that well). the chopped toasted walnuts gave it a nice crunch and texture. also, something sweet in this dish, but pretty subtle.
i think that's all we ordered for dinner, along w/ glasses of rioja red wine. don't know what it was -- the only one offered by the glass. i am not a wine expert, but it was dry and tasty.
we were pretty full, but could not pass up the only dessert offered on the menu. churros w/ chocolate. the churros arrived piping hot, crispy on the outside, soft inside, rolled in cinammon and sugar. wonderful! along w/ a little pot of choc sauce to dip in. loved it. we had coffee that also arrived at the perfect temperature. very smooth and rich, not at all bitter. great coffee.
that's it. total bill came to around $80 (not includng tip, i think), but i'm not sure b/c hubby paid and i didn't pay too much attn.
as for lacma, we had no idea it would be such a scene!!!! big traffic jam on wilshire. we got there at around 11:30 and the line was around the block -- easily 3 hr wait. so, we had to pass and went home instead. very disappointed to hv not seen the modigliani show. my own fault for not going earlier.