Sherman's Food Adventures: Tempranillo


It's not a secret that I prefer savoury snacks and food more than sweets.  Now that is all fine and dandy, but I like to take it a step further where not only do I want to eat savoury dishes, I would prefer that we share as many as possible.  Does this sound like Dim Sum?  Why yes it does!  However, this post is not about Dim Sum, nor it is about Izakaya (they happen to be 2 of my favourite forms of eating!).  One of the most synonymous types of cuisine conducive to sharing is naturally Spanish Tapas.  Unlike the aforementioned Dim Sum and Izakaya, Vancouver is in short supply of tapas.  So it didn't take me much time to visit the newly opened Tempranillo with Steph.

Although there was only 2 of us, we decided to put a dent into the menu beginning with the Local Marinated White Anchovies with garlic, shallots, parsley and olive oil.  This was a super simple dish, but was one of our favourites.  In addition to their meaty and tender texture, the flavours were bright and appealing.  There was a balanced saltiness and tang that allowed the garlic and shallots to really come through.  Another solid offering was the Mule Driver's Cod with salt cod, piquillo pepper, potato, garlic and olive oil.  The concoction was smooth, yet not overly processed.  There was a purposeful amount of saltiness that gave way to an appealing Earthiness.  Once again, the garlic came through while the light sweetness of the peppers lay in the background.

Although the first 2 dishes were good, the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio was hands-down the best dish.  It was topped with truffled potato foam and a 65 degree egg.  The thinly sliced beef was so buttery and smooth, I don't even remember chewing it.  The egg was silky and runny while the foam was nicely textured and only lightly truffle-inspired.  A few things I would've liked to see on the dish was more colour and some form of textural contrast.  Flavourful in a mild manner, the Octopus Salad featured a smoked paprika essence.  There was some zing from the sherry vinegar and plenty of garlickiness as well as a wealth of sweet sharpness from the onions.  As for the octopus itself, the slices were super tender and nicely seasoned.

Onto the most interesting, yet not particularly interesting to look at dish, we tried the Razor Clam Conversa.  These were harvested and canned immediately and carefully from the source.  I found them to be lightly briny and fairly natural-tasting.  The clams had a similar texture to canned abalone as well as exhibiting similar flavours with a meaty sweetness.  Looking more like a Pancit (Filipino fried noodle) than a Spanish dish, the Fideos or toasted short pasta with squid, piquillo peppers, octopus stock and parsley was quite good.  We found the noodles to be al dente chewy while tasting nutty, sweet and briny.  The pops of sweetness from the peppers added another layer of flavour.  Loved the tender squid rings strewn throughout too.

For our 2 meat choices, we tried the Saffron-Braised Chicken Thigh first.  It was topped with an almond picada.  We weren't that impressed with the dish as the chicken was fairly bland and dry.  We really didn't get any saffron nor did the picada do much to flavour the dish. I found the picada to be somewhat nutty and lightly sweet.  Lastly, we had the Marinated Tenderloin Steak with 2 sauces - Valdeon cheese and tomato pepper.  The steak itself was beautifully prepared being rare with a uniform doneness on the outside.  It was buttery and tender.  We found the sauce to be pungent, but not sharp enough to make an impact.  Some more acidity was needed to bring the dish alive.  Overall, we felt the first 6 dishes we ate were the strongest with the chicken being the weakest.  With that being said, Tempranillo is a good place for some bites with some bevvies amongst friends.

The Good:
- Relaxed and friendly service
- Smaller dishes were good
- Place is not too big and not too small

The Bad:
- Smaller dishes were stronger than the 2 bigger ones we had
- As with any tapas spot, prices can get up there if you order a lot (like us...)


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