13 February 2010

(Valentine's Date Night) Tapas Rias

Otto & I decided to celebrate Vday early since we live in a much bigger city these days and just dropping into a place doesn't mean you'll get a table, or even if you call a day or so ahead doesn't mean you'll get a reservation. Thus, we figured a Friday Date Night was in order!!!

It was Otto's turn to plan one, so he took care of everything and I just sort of waited to hear what I needed to wear and when we'd be leaving.

It's always funny when we plan Date Nights for each other, because we love to make them surprise, so we never tell the other person where we're going or what we're going to be doing. So, when we got in the car and started driving I started my guessing game... and usually I'm very good at guessing where we're going! But not this time... I kept trying to think of places located in the direction we were going, and I think Otto found it funny how I just kept guessing wrong.

Eventually we pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall, and I was extremely confused! Here he pulls the car up to a place call Tapas Rias, (a taste of Spain). How exciting! We've never gone to a Spanish place before!!! The place was very nice, rich/rustic colors covered the walls, and wonderful arches defining different areas of the restaurant gave it a very Spanish feeling in architecture. The lighting was very soft, and I loved how there were empty wine bottles sporting red tulips and small red glasses with candles (definitely a touch for Vday)! We sat down and even before our server appeared we were given a small, sliced loaf of white bread and a plate of olive oil. Otto wasted no time in adding fresh ground pepper to the oil before dipping the bread in it!! Was very delicious!!! When our server arrived, Nicolas, we admitted that we were quite sure how this all worked. Nicolas explained that 2 people would probably eat 3-4 tapas, and an entree was enough for 1 person. So, I ordered a House Margarita (very orange with a salt/orange mixture around the rim of the glass) and Otto ordered an Estrella (Spanish lager) to start and then we began exploring the menu with all the different options it had to offer! We decided to order three and go from there. Our order consisted of Vieiras A La Pancha (grilled sea scallops with saffron sauce), Albondigas Catalanas (Spanish style meatballs with pine nuts, onions, fresh herbs and manzanilla wine) and Patatas A La Riojana (rioja style potatoes with wine and Spanish sausage). We were also assured by Nicolas that these were very good choices, which made us feel mush braver about our order!

When our tapas came they also brought out more bread and left us to our own devices. The Vieiras A La Pancha was a small dish with about 5-6 scallops lightly grilled with a sauce consisting of chunks of peppers, oil & saffron. It was delicious, but mind you, I wasn't having an of the sauce... I'm not a pepper person, but the scallops were delicious! The Albondigas Catalanas consisted of three large meatballs in a tasty brown gravy with pine nuts floating in there. These were good, but nothing extraordinary. Just meatballs in a good brown gravy. Lastly we tried the Patatas A La Riojana which consisted of chunks of potatoes, slices of sauteed onion, and slices of sausage in a wine/oil sauce. This by far was our favorite! It had an amazing flavor and everything blended together just perfectly!!! I'm pretty sure we could've ordered another one, but instead, by Nicolas's suggestion, we ordered dessert! Creme Brulee.

Otto & I have never had this before, so it was a new adventure for the both of us, which seemed to be the theme of the evening! I can't say we were disappointed... It was extremely tasty! I loved the combination of the creamy custard and the crunchy, sweet top! After we polished it off we realized we were extremely satisfied! It was the prefect amount of food for the two of us to share on a very romantic evening!!!

I would definitely give Tapas Rias an A+!!! The atmosphere was amazing, it helped that there was a live musician playing traditional music in the background, the staff were nothing but helpful and courteous, and the food was absolutely fantastic!!! If you ever have the chance take the time to stop by Tapas Rias!!!