On Saturday night Peter and I enjoyed dinner at one of our favorite tapas restaurants, Tapas Barcelona in Evanston.
Evanston, home of Northwestern University, is a beautiful lakefront city just north of Chicago, chock-a-block full of great restaurants.
It wasn’t always that way.
My very first big-girl, post-graduation apartment was in Evanston. My pals Clare, Catherine and I shared a snazzy apartment featuring 3 bedrooms and white shag carpet. Quite “au courant” in 1979. This palace cost us each a mere $154 per month if you can believe it.
Back in those days, Evanston was mostly dry – no bars or liquor stores and only a couple of restaurants with liquor licenses. As I recall, there was The Keg, where Northwestern students brought their visiting parents and we could not afford, and The Spot, a pizza joint which was our second home.
Gone are those restrictive days and Evanston is now a nightlife hot spot.
Tapas dining is a wonderful solution for people like me who have trouble choosing just one dish on a menu. The variety of small plates let diners sample hot and cold dishes ranging from olives and veggies to meat and seafood.
We started with a glass of Martin Codax Albariño from the Rias-Braixas region of Spain.
Albariño is a dry white wine that pairs well with seafood. My very favorite domestic producer of Albariño is Hendry Wines from Napa.
The typical recommendation for tapas dining is to select three to four dishes per person. Even with a party of two, this allows for a tasting of six to eight different menu items.
Every single item we enjoyed from the Tapas Barcelona menus was delicious. Here were a few of our favorites.
Patatas Alioli – “Rich garlic potato salad with black olive mayo.”
Perhaps the best potato salad I have ever tasted. I’ve never heard of black olive mayo before but I am a huge fan.
Esparragos con Tres Salsa – “Fresh asparagus with avocado, tomato and trio of sauces.”
We almost passed up this dish figuring, meh, it’s just asparagus… This deliciousness could never be described as “just” anything. The cold asparagus was cooked to the perfect tenderness, the tomatoes were flavorful and the 3 sauces (each a variation of aioli) compelled us to scrape the plate clean.
Aguacate con Cangrejo – “Fresh crab meat with avocado, cucumber and tomato.”
This beautiful and tasty crab stack was light, fresh and yummy. It was a perfect pairing with the Albariño.
Now for our favorite dishes from the “hot” side of the menu:
Queso De Cabra Con Tomate – “Baked goat cheese in tomato sauce, nicoise olives, garlic bread.”
Served in a piping hot skillet, this tomato sauce was sweet, a touch spicy and had enough acidity to balance the creamy goat cheese. My only complaint? There was not quite enough of the garlic bread to sop up every last drop of the sauce.
Croquetas del Dia – “Todays fried croquettes with alioli.”
These “Croquettes of the Day” tasted like the best crabcake tucked inside a thin, crispy crust and resting on yet another delicious aioli.
Among an entire menu of culinary successes, the Crab Croquettes stole the night.
Now it’s your turn. Do you like tapas dining? Do you have a favorite restaurant? A favorite dish? I’d love some recommendations for next time!
(Oh, and by the way, I received no compensation from Tapas Barcelona. They had no idea whether or not a super powerful and influential blogger was in their midst. And nor did I.)
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