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tapas

Cafe Apamate

I remember hearing great things about Cafe Apamate. Passing by it the other week, I thought to myself, oh, that’s where Cafe Apamate is! After a half-assed attempt at going to Sabrina’s or Morning Glory, I knew that we could actually go to Apamate and get a table! It’s a tapas place. The chef is venezuelan who grew up in Spain. And she’s a woman. Whoo hoo! The place is freaking adorable. Red walls, dark woods, lovely photographs on the walls. I wish my house looked like that.
Cafe con leche. Don’t ask me, I can’t do caffeine. It’s fun to look at.
The tortilla espanola, the traditional spanish omelet. It has potatoes, onions, and obviously eggs. It comes with a kick ass spicy aioli on the side. And a little side salad with strawberries and pine nuts. Everything – delicious.
The tostas con pisto, with stewed squash, eggplant, and tomatoes on toasted bread and topped with a poached egg. I don’t eat nearly enough vegetables, but surprisingly, I do like eggplant and squash, and stuff like that. I really enjoyed everything about my meal, except the pine nuts. That’s ok, I picked them out. And yes, of course I had to get the churros. Freshly fried! Whoo! With a chocolate sauce that was clearly not cheap milk chocolate. I made sure to clean this plate! Service was great, our waitress was super sweet and friendly. The food doesn’t come out super fast, but that’s ok, I was just enjoying the atmosphere there. It just feels comfortable. Plus, I was practicing balancing spoons on my nose. I’m good at it.
Cafe Apamate on Urbanspoon

Small Plates At Distrito

Yeeha! W wanted tapas for dinner and I threw out Distrito as an idea. Then my brother balked saying he didn’t want mexican food. I insisted anyway. And W agreed. I quickly made a reservation, just to be safe, and we headed out. It was super early (early bird special early) so a reservation probably wasn’t necessary. The place is huge and gawdy, something fierce. Terribly bright and colorful, but I didn’t mind. It was supposed to be overly stylized. I personally loved the wall of lucho libre masks.
So if you know Jose Garces restaurants at all, you know he’s all about the small plates. This one is his mexican variety. We just got a crapload of stuff. Let’s begin. Ceviches – camarones and hamachi. The shrimp one was good, so was the yellowtail one. However, the sangrita sorbet on the hamachi ceviche? Weird. It was spicy, it kinda creeped me out. I did not enjoy that sorbet.
Onto the ensalada: chilango chop. I think. Simple, yet good.
Los Tacos! My favorite part. From the top: camarones y chorizo, carne kobe, and pollo. Ok, I didn’t taste the shrimp and chorizo ones, but W and Moms weren’t too crazy about them. They liked em, but not as much as the others. The carne kobe, oh my word, freakin kobe steak, with truffles, mash, and little french fries, topped withi cilantro greens. Seriously folks, one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. I could eat these all day long. But you know what? I could totally eat the chicken ones every day too. The chicken tacos were also so amazing! Super flavorful chicken ropa vieja, with queso fresco, radish, and a big hunk of avocado.

Onto the Tradicionales: Esquites. So simple, yet so good. A glass with sweet corn, queso fresco, chipotle, and lime. Hard to imagine putting these things together, but once it’s done, it was so surprisingly good.
Here’s the craziest thing we ate from the Mar Y Tierra section: Tuetano! Yes folks, I tried bone marrow! It was served with bacon marmalade, chopped jalapenos, and chopped onions. It came with tiny corn tortillas, and you scoop out the bone marrow, put on some toppings, and make yourself a little bone marrow taco. So what’s bone marrow like? Well, it’s fatty. Soft, melts-in-your-mouth, fatty. And when used as the meat for a little taco, it’s quite good. Now I’m not going to say I want to eat this all the time, but for something I’d never had before, it was great. I’m glad I tried it.A few accompanamientos: plantains, and black beans and rice. The plantain came on top of some pureed black beans and were topped with queso fresco. It was great. The beans were great too. It’s a teeny little serving, don’t think that’s a giant cast iron cauldron of beans. It was petite, but tasty.
Desserts! Flan, churros, and the cha cha cha. The flan is served with chantilly cream and coconut tuille. I didn’t taste this, but W loved it. The churros were lovely! The coffee ice cream that came with it was awesome. Some of the best coffee ice cream I’ve ever had. And the mexican hot chocolate to dip the churros in was strong, thick, and perfect. This cha cha cha was coffee, kahlua, and cinnamon.

The service here was great. Since you’re sharing and trying tons of stuff, they come and give you clean plates and utencils several times during the meal. It’s a pretty well oiled machine. Everyone was nice and helpful. The food comes out as it’s prepared, not in courses. So you’re just constantly eating all the time, which is nice. We all loved everything we ate. We were all quite happy, full, and satisfied. And in the end, it really didn’t end up being that expensive. If you take out the fact that the bro drank two strong and expensive margaritas and that desserts isn’t something I typically do, it was quite reasonable, and only about $25 per person. That’s not expensive at all for the quality of food and service that you’re getting. They do have this VW bug booth. I want to eat there some day. I’m a fan of Jose Garces. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

PS – They have tons of individual bathroom stalls, with a shared trough style sink. Not sure how I feel about it, but that’s just as gawdy as their other stuff.

Distrito on Urbanspoon

Bar Ferdinand

I made an executive decision on Friday to go to Bar Ferdinand, sit outside, and just enjoy the weather with some tasty little plates. Everyone else must have thought this idea too, as the wait for an outside table would have been 40 minutes. I hate waiting, so we were offered a booth right by the door instead, and we grabbed it right quick. It was almost like being outside, so I say, it was close enough.
This is a very attractive restaurant. Surprisingly bigger than I thought it would be. It’s fairly dark, with lots of bull motifs everywhere. There are giant ceramic/glass mosaics of bulls that are fairly impressive. Dried hanging rose stems abound around the bar, which boasts an impressive number of wine bottles that end up as really nice decoration. Even though it was really attractive, it didnt’ feel at all pretentious to me. Even schlubbed out as I was, per usual, I felt completely comfortable. They have a really long table, which either seems to be for large parties or is a communal table.
We got a pitcher of white sangria. I’d read that these tend to be watered down, but I found it strong enough. It was really a great way to start out the evening. Sure, it could have been better and there could have been a wider variety of fruits in there (it was mostly oranges, lemons, and maybe some melon?) but it was still light and refreshing. I’ll admit it though, I drank most of it. I’m a sucker for sangria in the summer.

They have lots of wine and a decent selection of beers. A/H showed up a little later and ordered an Estrella Damm beer. What did he think? “Damm, this is ordinary.”

So since this is a Spanish Tapas restaurant, we just decided to order a bunch of stuff and share. Behold one of my favorite dishes of the whole night. It was one of the specials, a cold soup. I totally forget what was actually in it, but there was definitely cucumbers, watermelon, and probably roasted red peppers. It was garnished with some creme fraiche and sliced strawberries. Both R and I absolutely loved this cold soup. It was souper. :-)

Some calamari. I thought this was pretty good too, with a red pepper puree and a shallot aioli. Both these dips were good, and so were the calamari. The batter for the calamari seemed to have some cornmeal in it, which made it different than regular calamari, in a good way.
Charred watermelon with serrano ham and tarragon. It was fine, but the watermelon wasn’t charred in any way, shape, or form. But don’t get me wrong, it was still good.
One of the other favorites of the evening – mussels with chorizo, tomato, beer, and pasta. Oh man, get a big hunk of chorizo with some tomato and pasta. So, so good. The flavors in this were intense and great.

Duck confit with a berry jam/compote of some kind. This was ok, but definitely one of our least favorites. Not bad in any way, but none of us were particularly in love with it.
Ooh baby. Seared lamb with moroccan relish and citrus yogurt. I’m not usually into lamb, but a dish like this makes me want to change my mind. This was beyond good.
One of the cool things that Bar Ferdinand does is cook giant things of paella outdoors. When we got there, he had just started cooking up a big batch. Look how beautiful that is!
So you know I had to order this. This was cooked really well, and included veggies and shrimp, clams, and mussels. There was also a big hunk of chicken in there, but it was a bit undercooked, so I tried to stay away from it. I love me some paella and I would definitely order this again.
So it is definitely small plates here and nothing is of big portions. This isn’t a bad thing because there’s definitely room for desserts at a place like this. Don’t remember exactly what this was, but it was almond ice cream based.

Yet another dessert I don’t remember, but it was all kinds of chocolate / coffee stuff in a cup with a froth on top. This was extremely rich and strong. Way too strong for my wussy ass.
This was by far the best dessert of the evening, and one of the best dishes of the entire evening. Fried cider soaked bread wtih cinnamon ice cream and candied orange zest. So damn good I can’t even tell you.
Last but not least, a blueberry cheesecake. The menu had a regular cheesecake, but they only had this blueberry available. It was different, but good. Not something I would order again but certainly worth trying.

Service was ok. Our waiter wasn’t particularly attentive, but there were enough staff running around the place that eventually, you can flag somebody down. The food didn’t take super long to come out though, but the service could definitely be better here. My water glass was always filled though, so I can’t complain about that. When we ordered wine and beer, that took an unnaturally long time to come out. There was a nice mix of people there that night – tattooed nolibs hipsters, popped collars on dates, bachelorette party girls, and senior citizens looking adorable. Really, it was a lovely dinner.

PS – The place is fairly big, but only has three bathrooms. In fact, there’s only one unisex bathroom on the first floor. Down the stairs, there are two more. I don’t know about you, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough! Aren’t there building codes? They do have these cute little bathroom signs. It’s a two-headed man/woman bull thingy.

I totally dug these tile floors. I wish I had a spanish style villa so I could have floors like these.

The bathrooms themselves are ok. Clean enough, all marble and stuff… modern fixtures. I think the floors are the highlight.

Bar Ferdinand on Urbanspoon

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