Location: 6920 Macleod Trail S
After much debate, I finally decided on this tapas bar for dinner with a friend. I had been here almost ten years ago and the only thing I remember was my dad complaining about how small the portions were and how expensive everything was. At the time I would have had to agree, but knowing what I know now (and the fact that it is a tapas bar), I think it’s quite normal. I’m all about giving places a second chance and having been so long, I expected things to be different from what they were when I first came.
Now, I am by no means a big eater (though at times that may seem questionable), so we decided to go with four dishes: the chorizo sliders, tuna tataki, cajun chicken egg rolls, and hibachi steak poutine. The first to arrive was the tuna tataki. Based on the presentation of this dish, I had expected something along the lines of a poke, but this is not what I got. My first impression was that it was nothing like a tataki; it reminded me more of a tartare. The tataki was served with a ponzu sauce, wasabi aioli, and egg roll crisps. The egg roll crisps had black and white sesame seeds baked into them making it a bit of a mess to eat for each bite sent them flying in all directions, occasionally raining down into my lap. The crisps were a bit hard (like very crunchy) and I could have done with something a little easier to bite into to pair with the tuna. The flavour of the tataki itself was fairly good. The green onions provided a variation in texture and taste, but they were not enough to lift the dish to the level of freshness I expected. The aioli caught me by surprise because I didn’t really notice it until I got a large dollop on a slice of avocado. Typically I’m not a huge fan of wasabi, so while it was not as strong as having wasabi straight, it still packed a punch. There was a bit of a spicy sauce on the side which I would have liked to see more of, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Next came the Hibachi Steak Poutine. As small as it looked, it was awfully filling (because potatoes…). I was disappointed that a pile of cheese curds sat atop the dish unmelted. As I bit into them I hoped that they’d be the squeaky Quebec cheese curds that are typically used in poutines; they weren’t. My first thought was that this dish was pretty salty, but it’s a poutine, so I didn’t expect others. The hibachi sauce was a nice contrast to the traditional gravy and the steak and shitake mushrooms were a nice addition to the poutine (because come on, it doesn’t get more classic than mushrooms and steak). The flavours were good, but the fact that it had me constantly reaching for and draining my water, was not. Next came the sliders and the egg rolls, almost simultaneously. Chorizo is typically a dry sausage, but this was not that. It was more like a patty with lettuce, avocado, tomato, and pickled onion. Though the menu claims to have roasted jalapeno, I couldn’t detect even a hint of it. My friend mentioned that his slider was a bit dry, but perhaps I didn’t notice because of all the other ingredients on it or that I had expected chorizo to have been much drier than this slider was. I’d have to say this was one of my favourite items of the evening. While the slider was one of my favourites, the egg roll that followed was not. Alone the roll is quite bland and is really nothing special. The flavour comes entirely from the dipping sauce. In a way this is good because it prevents the dish from becoming overseasoned, but in another, it makes it flat and two-dimensional. As this dish uses the egg roll wrapper, it’s heavy and very filling.
By the time we had finished these, I wasn’t sure if I could eat more, but I really wanted a dessert. So we decided on the dessert sampler. It consisted of four dessert shots and three raspberry chocolate truffle pops. In my experience, dessert shots are fairly small (like you could eat the whole thing in one bite), but these ones turned out to be bigger than I expected. The four desserts were an oreo mousse, mascarpone mint, rocky road, and apple cinnamon cheesecake. As always, I prefer the mousse. Especially as a dessert because it’s light and perfect after a meal as heavy as the one we had. The cheesecake is always the hardest for me to eat because of its richness and this particular one had an overload of cinnamon. While it was good, I couldn’t eat more than a bite (I ended up eating more of it, but I was kinda just nibbling at it). The rocky road was overly sweet and I’ve never been much of a sweet person so this was just too much for me (caramel, thick ganache like chocolate, marshmallows) and I just don’t like mint in desserts or as a tea, so that was just terrible for me. Plus it just tasted like a mint cheesecake because of the mascarpone. Chocolate and raspberries are a classic, so the raspberry chocolate truffle pops were exactly as I expected with one exception: nibbling is probably not the best way to eat it because the crunchy/hard chocolate exterior has a tendency to break and fall apart all over you, so you may have to shove the whole thing into your mouth. And if you do and you’re mouth is anything like mine, by the time you get it to fit in your mouth you can’t close it or chew it.
I never realized how oily everything we ate was until after when I had to clear my throat every few minutes just to be able to talk. Since neither of us had any drinks tonight, the bill came to a decent price. Our waiter was kind and attentive and made sure we had everything we needed during the meal. I also appreciated that each time he came by when I didn’t have food in my mouth so I could answer. I would definitely love to come back, but next time I think I’ll go for the small plates just to see if they’re a little smaller and therefore are able to have a greater variety of items off the menu. And while I’m on that note, maybe I should bring more people. For tonight, I’d rate it 3.75/5.