Reports on this tapas place on Valencia near 16th, owned by the same group as Thirsty Bear, have been sort of mixed to lukewarm...but a much beloved colleague was leaving my group at work for a much better paying job elsewhere, and we wanted to celebrate with a girls' night out, and Ramblas was her choice...
I was elected party planner and was a bit turned off by the reservation process: they specify on their website, and when they called me to confirm the reservation, that they won't seat the group till everyone arrives and will only hold the reservation for 15 minutes...given that we were going very early (5:15 p.m. on a weeknight) this seemed perhaps excessive.....so I was a little nervous that they would fuss when we showed up as only six, not seven as planned, due to one of the 'girls' coming down sick...
but no problem, we were promptly seated at a comfortable table, and informed that during happy hour the first glass of sangria, first glass of house wine, or first well drink was free if ordered with a tapa. We all opted for sangria, and they brought a pitcher with almost two drinks p/p worth, but didn't charge, calling it our first free drink each. I am no sangria afficionado, but it was decent, with chunks of fresh fruit, not too sweet. It was perhaps a bit too watered down, but since the first glass and three quarters was free, it was fine...Some of the drinks on the menu sounded interesting, and I probably would have preferred to try them had it not been for the free pitcher...
anyway, the big surprise was how much I enjoyed the food! Since two of the six are vegetarians, we stuck mostly to the non-meat items, but really, there wasn't a single clunker among everything savory we ordered. We did have a one or two more (paid) pitchers of sangria, and lots of story-telling and laughter, so I can't recall everything we tried, but standouts included figs stuffed with goat cheese, a delicious eggplant with a tomato jam, manchego cheese, roasted potatoes, and seared Monterey squid in a smoky sauce.
We split two desserts: an spanish olive oil cake with strawberries that was excellent, and a chocolate 'flan'. This was the only real disappointment of the evening. It wasn't a flan at all; more like an average tasting chocolate mousse...
atmosphere was festive and appropriate for an event like this, but appealed to even the oldest, least hip, and most noise-adverse of the group (that of course would be me....) We could talk, but it felt like a party, and everyone left happy.
Best yet, everyone had plenty to eat and three or so rounds of drinks, and the total cost with tip (added automatically for a group our size) was just under $150. That meant that the five of us could split the cost for ourselves and for our guest of honor, for only $30 apiece. Ideal for a situation such as this where incomes and budgets vary but everyone wants to be able to relax and enjoy themselves.
Food was good enough that I am considering going back with hubby to try the paella. Has anyone had it?
Afterwards, a few of us moved over to Andalu for a few more drinks. I was glad we hadn't chosen it instead (much noiser; not sure how we could have reminisced), but I did have a drink there that I would happily return for: I thnk they call it a Ginger Ginger, it consists of ginger-infused vodka, fresh ginger and ginger soda. Not at all sweet, and very tasty, as well as being a bit too easy to down....Two of those, and it was time to cab it home for me... :-)
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