So Somanna and I ventured out of the norm last weekend and actually spent more than $20 on a meal that wasn’t Mexican food.
I know. I hear your collective gasps. Here, take a moment. It’s OK. It took us a while to recover too.
OK, moving on. SO! Like I said, we ventured out into the great unknown of downtown Raleigh to try out a little somethin’ somethin’ new. And YALL, we hit the ball out of the park.
Where did we go? Here. Here is where I left my heart.
The restaurant has an interesting concept. They serve their food in tapas size portions, but the menu isn’t exclusively Spanish cuisine. The restaurant fails to even hint at Spanish decor. In fact, aside from the lone paella dish listed on the menu, I can’t find a lick of Spanish influence. So why do they opt to serve you tapas style? I can only assume that it is an ironically arrogant and deliberate ploy to get you to buy more food, because they know their food tastes so damn good that one sampling will simply not suffice neither your taste buds or their egos.
But let me be up front.
The tapas size dishes offer you a great opportunity to try out lots of flavors and dishes. This is great for your taste buds. This is not so great for your wallet as these mini meals still carry the average full size price.
But hhuuunnnneeeeyy, I’m telling you. The minute that food hits your mouth. Lawd, have mercy. You will sell your soul for more. I realize I risk over hyping this place, only to have you try it and leave mildly, or even grossly, disappointed. That possibility concerns me. But not near as much as the thought of you not takin’ a gamble and trusting my belly approved judgment.
This food is GOOD yall. Like so good, you just want to suck on the flavor before your stomach reaches up and snatches it from your tongue good. For realz.
So let’s get down to it shall we?
First up: tempura asparagus with sauteed red peppers, sesame seeds drizzled with an Asian ginger / soy sauce. I vowed to Somanna right then and there that one day I will own a deep fryer so that I can make this at home. Because after eating ass-spa-rag-us (as Somanna lovingly refers to it) this way, I doubt that I can go back.
Crisp, crunchy asparagus with the perfect balance of sweet and salty thanks to the red peppers and the ginger / soy sauce. It was Zen on a plate. Ying and Yang. Whatever far Eastern symbolism of balance you want to call it. It was on my plate. And I ate it. And suddenly I was one with Nirvana. And life was good.
As I sat in Nirvana, contemplating how easily world peace could be achieved if we all just had a little more love in our lives and warm deliciousness in our tummies, a dark angel ( cough, waitress) descended. And lo, she brought with her the gift of tostadas.
Braised Short Rib Tostadas to be precise. Shredded beef, tender and moist and oh-so-perfectly succulent. Topped with a fiery chipotle sauce stacked on top a crisp bed of lettuce and pico de gallo. Accompanied by salsa verde or “green salsa” as dorky gringos call it. Vegetarians / Flexitarians be forewarned: this beef is sinfuly good and capable of destroying your willpower. STAY AWAY! (But be a lamb and pass your temptation on over to the guilty red meat lovin’ Hindu and his vegetarian wanna be wife. Preesh.)
After our less than well mannered fall from Zen-like grace to the lowly depths of unabashed red meat worship, we figured we might as well round out our sinful ways and throw in some pork just to make sure that our entry to Hades was not only guaranteed, but hastily expedited.
And so with our devil may care attitude, we brazenly ordered the Grilled Andouille Sausage. Mmmm. Perfectly grilled, not too spicy, but enough kick to make your tongue wiggle.
It was yummy. Especially when you dipped it in the creamy roasted corn sauce they served it with. That was yummy too.
But ya know what was even better?
The roasted Roma tomato dipped in the roast corn sauce coupled with with a bite of the jalapeno and cheddar cheese corn pudding. Mmmm, Come to Mama! This last dish marked a distinct contrast to our first two with its warm, subtle flavors that let the food speak for itself.
In an effort to balance out our deliciously sinful meal with some New Age focus on health and omega 3’s, we selected the oven roasted mahi mahi served with smoked Gouda potato Au gratin, drizzled in a red pepper and caper relish to do the job. And once again we found ourselves in a food induced euphoria as the fish exploded with freshness and brain power savvy molecules in our heads. Luckily, the cheesy potatoes brought us back down to earth and all its comforts.
As we savored our final dish of the evening, we mentally prepared ourselves to return to our Monkish ways of not eating out and fighting our addiction to dead flesh. It was a sobering moment ( as was, ahem, the bill.)
So please. Come and visit us, so that corruption may reign once more.
To paraphrase St. Augustine, Lord give me dietary discipline, but not yet!