>> Thursday, May 19, 2011
It has been a hellish week, wait, that’s a total understatement. It’s been an insane month. I can’t wait for the month of May to disappear in to the deep recesses of my brain forever, without any hopes of return. I’m completely ok with wiping my memory of the last couple of weeks. What better way to do so then with food? Food solves all problems and a nice setting doesn’t hurt either. So it was a really nice surprise when my husband decided that we should just hightail it out of Calgary for the evening and drive to Canmore for dinner. After an hour or so we found ourselves surrounded by glorious mountains and heading to Tapas Restaurant. It’s also voted most romantic in the Rockies.
Atmosphere: Located in a refurbished private residence, the tiny dining area makes for a cozy date. However, it wouldn’t be the greatest for large groups.
Price: Mid $10s - $20s
Food and Wine: Shortly after we were seated, our waitress began explaining the menu and told us how they’re currently in the mist of changing their seasonal menu from winter to spring meaning a lot of the items that I wanted to try wasn’t available. I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed (remember the hellish week bit?) since I was really looking forward to trying their escargots and also their bison dish. However it also means that the restaurant is constantly changing and adapting, which is a good thing (I had to keep reminding myself of that fact).
Tapas also offers a Chef’s Tasting Menu, but the reviews online mentioned that we should stay with their original menu since the tasting doesn’t necessarily reflect what Tapas has to offer. So instead we opted to try a bit of their cold, hot and entrée sized dishes. Since the word tapas in Spanish does refer to little plates, I was more than prepared to sample a plethora of them.
We started with the Pintxo portion of the menu ordering the Smoked Salmon with red onion, capers and dill cream cheese. I love the combination of capers and dill. Who doesn’t like a little salmon with cream cheese? Classic. They also added a bit of avocado on each crostini which I really enjoyed. The Beef Carpaccio was served with a sherry vinegar reduction and a light dusting of manchego cheese. We found the amount of vinegar placed on the dish overwhelmed the delicate flavours of the beef since the beef slices were very thin, as carpaccios should be. I liked the reduction. Probably less of it would have allowed the beef to shine a bit more.
Next came the Galician Octopus poached in olive oil and served with volcanic salt. The olive oil brought out a very fishy aspect of the octopus for me. Who knew octopus was fishy? So I quickly moved away from that dish and on to the Garlic Gambas. Gambas are shrimp in Spanish, these ones were paired with grilled chorizo sausage over a sweet and spicy sauce. The sauce was a nice accompaniment to the sausage, but the shrimp were a little well done. My seafood loving husband was a little unimpressed at this point. Luckily the mussels came out just then.
We decided on the Mariners Mussels, where the sauce is composed of white wine, onion, lots of garlic (yum!) and fresh parsley. It was amazing! The buttery white wine sauce was extremely light and fresh yet flavourful and garlicky. The combination of the ingredients worked very well together. We couldn’t stop dipping in to the sauce with the fresh loaf of house made bread that came with the dish. The bread itself was very good as well, crusty on the outside while remaining chewy and soft on the inside.
Our last dish for the evening was from the Platos section, which are larger plates meant to be more of an entrée size but still shareable. We opted to go with the suggested Lamb Lollipops, since I was intrigued by the maple syrup glaze (when I think maple syrup I usually think salmon). It was definitely unique since I can’t say I’ve had maple syrup on lamb before, but it was a nice change. The plate came with four ‘lollipops’ each cooked to a perfect medium rare. My husband thought it wasn’t gamey enough for lamb, but I enjoyed it since I’ve never been a huge fan of the overly wild game-meaty taste.
At this point, we decided that we would move on to dessert (although I could have used more mussels). I already had my heart set on the Dark Chocolate Decadence, their version of the chocolate soufflé, which is a semi cooked cake with a soft centre. The only little problem was it didn’t come with ice cream, so we added an order of the Chocolate Gelato (they were out of vanilla). I wouldn’t suggest the chocolate on chocolate unless you’re a really big chocolate fanatic (I know you’re out there), however I did find the gelato to be very light and preferred it over the soufflé. It is a little bit of a wait for the chocolate soufflé since it’s cooked upon order and we were ok with waiting. It allowed us to slow down the evening a bit and enjoy some more wine.
Speaking of wine, we ended up with a bottle of the Mas Donis Barricas, which is composed of Garnach and Syrah. It had a light ruby red color and fruity aromas reminiscent of raspberries and blackberries. The high tannins give off a bold finish, while the sweet fruit flavours linger. I normally prefer drier wines, so this was off from the norm for me, but the wine I decided on wasn’t in stock yet (menus changes). Maybe we should have opted to try the Sangria, which you don’t find normally in Alberta restaurants. You can order the sangria in half or full litres, which makes the Spanish ambiance a little more complete.
My Pick: Mariners Mussels
Overall: It seemed like the theme of the evening was “out”, I was trying to get the last little while out of my head, we were out of Calgary and Tapas was out of a lot of the things we wanted. It didn’t ruin our evening though, it was still the weekend, we were in the mountains and we still had pretty decent food. I’m just not sure when we’ll be back to Tapas, but the next time when we call in for a reservation we’ll also ask if they’re in the mist of their menu changes. On the bright side, I did forget my week, might have something to do with all that wine!
633 10th Street