Sherman's Food Adventures: The Tapa Bar Restaurant

The Tapa Bar Restaurant

There was a time when taking the kids out for tapas was not really a practical thing to do.  With their limited preferences and also equally limited appetites, it was a better option to do White Spot.  However, since they are older now with more mature palates, going for tapas or really anything else is not much of a stretch these days.  So after a really cool experience at Cherry Bomb Toys on Broad Street, we sauntered down 2 blocks over to Trounce Alley.  There, we found The Tapa Bar, where it was already hopping at 5:00pm due the tail end of happy hour.  We were lucky to grab a table on a busy Saturday night.

We started off with the Chorizo Fondue with garlic and fresh tortilla chips on the side.  Although the amount of cheese and chorizo was pretty modest, it was enough for all of the chips on the plate.  This was a kid favourite as the cheese was stringy with enough diced chorizo on top for impact.  It wasn't spicy, but there was definitely a meatiness.  I would've liked to see the cheese kept heated as it was hard to dip the chips.  Rather, we had to spread it on with a knife.  We were recommended the Coconut Lime Salt Spring Mussels and the broth did not disappoint.  Combined with the aromatics of the coconut milk, we found the acidity of the lime as well as the brininess of the mussels.  In fact, the brininess was a touch overwhelming, but then again, better than not.  The mussels themselves were cooked beautifully being buttery and tender.

Particularly for my daughter, we got the Portuguese Sardines grilled with rock salt and served with lemon.  These were some pretty large sardines which were fairly fishy from the remnants of the innards.  Well, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing as we love brininess and sardines are usually not bland by no means.  Texturally, they were on point with a moist delicateness.  We had to ask for more lemon though as the acidity helped cut through the intense fishiness.  For our choice of thin crust pizza, we ended up with the House Smoked Chicken Breast with fresh basil and mozzarella.  The pizza lived up to the thin crust billing being crispy all the way through.  On top, the chicken was definitely smoky while still tender and not dried out.  Combined with a tangy tomato sauce and a wealth of fresh basil on top, there was no lack of impact.

Tapas is not tapas for us without an order of Patatas Bravas or deep fried potatoes with roasted garlic aioli.  This was good and bad on the same plate.  We appreciated the large chunks of potatoes that maintained an appealing potato texture.  However, they were not crispy at all on the outside.  Rather, they were merely greasy and soft.  On the other hand, the creamy and aromatic aioli was flavourful and really helped save this dish.  To get some meat into the meal, we ordered the 8 oz New York Striploin prepared a beautiful medium-rare (closer to the rare side, which is our preference).  Other than a piece of sinew running down the middle of the steak, the meat was super tender with a desirable meatiness.  It was flavourful from the char and really didn't need much to accent it.

Lastly, we got the Seafood Fettuccine with mussels, prawns, halibut and tomatoes in a saffron cream sauce.  The fresh pasta was nicely al dente with a good rebound chewiness.  It was enveloped in a very creamy sauce that was aromatic and brininess (again from the mussels).  The seafood was perfectly prepared with flaky halibut and meaty snap prawns.  As much as we enjoyed the pasta, there was just a bit too much sauce where it drowned everything in the dish.  This epitomized other items such as the potatoes and the fondue where it was hit and miss within the same dish.  Yet, as a whole, the meal was decent and service was good.

The Good:
- Decent portions
- Expeditious service
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:
- A bit hit and miss

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