Monday, July 5, 2010

Tapas Gitana

This past Friday, my Dad was out of town on business, so Noam, Lisa, and I joined my Mom for dinner. My Mom had been given a suggestion to go somewhere called the Happ Inn in Northfield, but while looking at the restaurants in that area she came across a place that peaked her interest called Tapas Gitana. Normally, I'd have to hop in Suzy (my 1999 Suzuki Grand Vitara) and sit in traffic without working air conditioning, but Noam and Lisa graciously picked me up on their way. So with empty stomachs we headed into the burbs.

I'd like to tell you about the restaurant layout, but we never went inside. By the time we got there Mom had already been placed at a table on the patio. The patio was pretty large with room for about 50. It was nice that although the restaurant was in an upper scale strip mall, it was somewhat buried in its own little alcove.

Our service was alright. The waiter was probably assigned one too many tables which slowed our service a bit. Multiple times I was left without water. As far as suggestions, he kind of said that everything was pretty good without any true favorites. The food took some time to come out as well. I understand that at a tapas restaurant that part of the charm is the progressive delivery of food while you chat over some sangria, but some of our dishes took a little too long.

The cost of everything was average. Some dishes were as cheap as $4 while others got closer to $20. We had a mix of both in our meal. One issue you can often run into with tapas is that some of the dishes are really lacking portion wise (even for tasting). All of our dishes were substantial enough to at least justify their cost, and some of the cheap dishes came in pretty decent portions.

The Food
We started out with a pitcher of White Sangria. It was nice to have with the hot weather. It was refreshing, and the pitchers were nice and large. One thing was that the fruit was divided up by glass before the sangria was poured in. I would've preferred to get some new chunks of fruit with each pour from the pitcher.

Aceitunas Alinadas

Canalon Frio de Atun

Alcachofas Marinadas

The menu was split up into cold dishes and warm dishes so that's how I'll approach this. For our cold dishes we ordered Aceitunas Alinadas (assorted Spanish olives), Canalon Frio de Atun (Tuna, Asparagus, and Basil Cannelloni), and Alcachofas Marinadas (Marinated Artichoke Hearts). The olives came in a large portion with a decent variety, but they were covered in a heavy dressing that left the dish unfinished (and you all know how little I like to leave anything on my plate). The Canalon was creamy and balanced in flavor with a nice textural contrast between the wrapping, tuna, and asparagus. The Alcachofas tasted great with a balsamic dressing, but the sharp tips were left on the artichoke, leaving a somewhat unpleasant surprise.

Pechuga de Pato con Lejentas y Couscous

Champinones Rellenos
Patatas Bravas

The Filet with Garlic Covered Potatoes
Pincho de Solomillo

The warm dishes included Champinones Rellenos (Stuffed Mushroom Caps), Patatas Bravas (Fried Potatoes), Pincho de Solomillo (Beef Tenderloin Skewers), some dish that was basically Filet with potatoes and garlic, and Pechuga de Pato con Lejentas y Couscous (Duck with Lentils and Couscous). The mushrooms were fantastic with a nice stuffing made of spinach and cheese and covered in a complex marinara sauce. The sauce left behind was fantastic for dipping the table bread in. The Patatas Bravas were prepared properly with a creamy red pepper sauce. It was spicy and still provided a cool creaminess to the dish. The Beef Skewers came with pearl onions and mushrooms and were covered in a horseradish cream sauce. The meat was a little overcooked and chewy, but it was served on a bed of crispy french fries that saved the dish a bit. The duck was well seasoned and tasty, but it didn't resemble duck in any manner. It looked more like a sauteed piece of veal, but it still tasted good and the lentils were delicious. The filet was probably one of the best things, and I'm sorry I can't remember the exact name. The mole style sauce it came in was thick and scrumptious, and the garlic topped potatoes were very complimentary.

We would have gotten dessert, but after a discussion about how much Noam loves ice cream, we decided to try and find some at a place further down in the strip mall. The only place that would've served ice cream was closed though. In retrospect, the tapas had what you'd expect. We were full without feeling gorged.

This was a pretty standard tapas experience for me. The service was a little more relaxed than I'd like, but at the same time we had a pitcher of sangria and a beautiful patio seat so it's not like we were in a hurry. Some of the dishes were real highlights while others were a little disappointing. Given that there are so many great tapas places in the city, I wouldn't rush out to the suburbs to try Tapas Gitana, but they're still doing a pretty good job. If you live out near Northfield you might want to stop by and check it out with a bunch of friends.

I'm giving Tapas Gitana 3 out of 5 Pearls.

Tapas Gitana on Urbanspoon

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