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Posts tagged ‘tapas bar’

Restaurant Review: Tango Bistro

Location: 6920 Macleod Trail S
Website: http://www.tangobistro.ca

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.

tango restaurant interior

Restaurant Interior

tataki

Tuna Tataki

poutine

Hibachi Steak Poutine

sliders

Chorizo Sliders

eggrolls

Cajun Chicken Egg Rolls

dessert shots

Dessert Shots with Raspberry Chocolate Truffle

Restaurant Review: Ox and Angela

Location: 528 17th Ave SW (Beltline)
Website: http://www.oxandangela.com

After months of not getting out due to studying, work, and whatever other excuses I came up with, I finally got a girls’ night out. I hadn’t seen either of these ladies for a very long time and we had so much catching up to do. This was my second time at a tapas bar and even now, I still can’t get over how expensive tapas bars can be. On the one hand, portion sizes are small, so that you can try out everything, but on the other hand, they are so expensive that my wallet literally cries because I’m only a poor student…sorta student…

With tapas I never know how much to order, so it’s always a good idea to start with a few dishes and hold onto the menu and order more if necessary. We started with four dishes: fried artichoke, fried goat cheese, fresh zucchini ribbon salad, a pan roasted duck breast, and an albacore tuna. Now, typically I’m not a fan of artichokes, in particular, pickled artichoke hearts, but deep fried anything is delicious. The fried artichoke was served in a small bowl atop a quince aioli and lemon. The lemon was virtually undetectable and very little of the quince flavour came through in the creaminess of the aioli. For those who don’t know, quince is a pear-like fruit that has a slightly tart taste, often added to fried dishes to counterbalance the greasiness. As an aioli, I felt that it added to the greasiness and the tartness was neutralized by the mayonnaise-like qualities of aiolis. But the artichokes were slightly seasoned and went well with the aioli. This dish makes me like artichokes a little more than I used to. With the fried goat cheese we were given the choice of being served the dish on its own or having bread with it. We chose to have it as it. I don’t know if you’ve ever had deep fried cheese of any kind, but I have to say, deep fried goat cheese is so amazing! Like the fried artichokes, the cheese was served with sauces and garnishes made to counterbalance the richness of the cheese. My first impression of the dish when it came out was that it looked like a giant croquette. The blood orange and date sauce was a beautiful crimson. There was just enough that you could taste a bit of the tartness (again to counter the grease, I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say that), but not so much that it overpowered the dish or drenched the cheese. The candied walnuts on top added the final touch of perfection. Actually candied anything is delicious. It would have been nice to have it with a slice of baguette or on a crostini, but it’s still fantastic on its own. The next dish to come out was the zucchini ribbon salad. I expected it to be a bit more than it actually was. With lemon and mint, I just expected it to be a fresher tasting salad than it was. It would have been nice if the zucchini had been pickled prior to its addition to the salad. The manchego cheese didn’t really taste of much and neither added nor detracted from the salad; it was kinda just there. The pan roasted duck breast, the most expensive dish of the night at $18. It was by far my favourite. Duck is a typically rich, dark meat, so I wasn’t surprised that it would again be paired with something tart: oranges. The duck was cooked and seasoned beautifully, the centre still being slightly pinkish red. Unfortunately the picture I took was a bit shaky and out of focus and does not do this magnificent dish justice. The last dish was the albacore tuna…and I don’t handle raw fish too well, but tonight I decided to just go for it. It was seared along the edges and served on top of a lemon aioli, sprinkled with fried capers and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes. The citrus aiolis here really don’t work at all. I could not taste the lemon and honestly felt like I was just putting a lot of cream onto my tuna. The tomato and capers did nothing to compliment the tuna at all. Frying capers pretty much destroyed it’s inherently weird, but complementary-to-raw-fish taste. The tuna itself was superb, but I don’t think I could eat it again.

By this point we were getting to be pretty full, but we felt that we could order just a tad bit more. So for our second round we ordered a croquetta and a Mediterranean salad. Due to all the deep fried rich foods we had eaten in the previous round, I started to sound like a frog…then it was a choking, hacking, dying frog…thank goodness I was ignored for that part of the conversation…quite frankly, it was gross. The croquetta was a salt cod and potato croquetta served with some sort of aioli and chili sauce. I was excited to try this one because I really love spicy foods, but nope. I tasted nothing but creamy aioli and the actual croquetta? That was like a mouthful of salt. After all, it was salt cod, so what was I supposed to be expecting? I think it would have been nice with a small glass of some kind of beer, but I know nothing about alcohol and how it complements a meal. But I can’t complain about how nice and crunchy the croquetta was. At one point I expressed my concern that I was afraid that I was going to send it flying off my plate and into the face of the lady at the table next to us. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. The Mediterranean salad was kinda weird to me. It had local tomatoes & cucumbers, roasted onion, goat feta, crispy chorizo, and a kale salsa verde. Like the zucchini ribbon salad, I expected it to be a bit more tart, which it wasn’t. The kale salsa verde was something new and I felt that it just didn’t work. The goat feta would have provided a good contrast if there was any tartness to the dish. And the crispy chorizo…that lived up to its name. Very crunchy…

Lastly, for dessert we shared a basque cake. I have a weakness for anything almond, so this was a must. For a tapas bar I should have expected something small, but somehow I hoped it would be larger, it wasn’t. This basque cake sliver had chunks of fruit in it, I’m not quite sure what kind it was, but I want to say rehydrated apricots and was lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. I loved the top and bottom of the cake because it tasted like caramelized sugar. The cake itself wasn’t too sweet, which I liked, but the chunks of fruit didn’t seem to fit.

For the sizes of the dishes I never expected to be full, but I was. It’s funny how something so small can fill you up so much. The staff were friendly enough and you never had to worry about your glass being empty; there was always a waiter or waitress close enough to top up your drink at all times. The place can get a bit noisy, but it’s all part of the atmosphere, so if you don’t mind then it’s great. There were times we were yelling, but I’m always yelling so I didn’t feel like I was out of place. Earlier in the evening it was a bit quieter and I sounded like I was talking way too loud. However I couldn’t believe how much our bill was at the end of the night. We had ordered a total of eight items (and my friends ordered a couple beers) and our bill came to around $110.

I would definitely recommend going to a tapas bar just to try it out, but keep in mind that if you’re looking for a cheap meal, this is not the place to go. This place in particular can get really busy really fast, so if you plan on going, I would recommend making a reservation. For me, this place was underwhelming and I expected a lot more from the dishes, particularly, for some sort of contrast and complement within the dishes. The service was good and all, but it is the food that speaks for the establishment. Based on everything, I would have to rate this place a 3.25/5. However, if I were to go back I would like to try the Spanish Table or Paella.

Ox and Angela Interior

Ox and Angela Interior

Fried Goat Cheese

Fried Goat Cheese

Fried Artichokes

Fried Artichokes

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Albacore Tuna

Albacore Tuna

Duck Breast

Duck Breast

Croquetta

Croquetta

Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Salad

Basque Cake

Basque Cake

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