When: Novemberish, 2006
Price: tapas $8-11, wine $8/glass or so.
Reservations are absoluately necessary here, as the entire West side of town seems to think this place is the bee's knees. The atmosphere is prairie-mafia style, with walls in earthy reds and yellows, black leather booths and pendulous track lighting. The bar is long and heavy wood, and as I said, the place was packed. In truth, I thought it was a rather fun feel.
Our waiter was..... a flake. I'm not sure why they thought he would be a good person to have serving on a weekend evening, but there he was, flaking away. He hadn't had any of the wines. We ordered a red flight and a white flight. The third glass in the red flight was completely corked, so (as per the previous Vin Santo experience) we sent it back. He returned with a new glass and said "The bartender tried it and said you guys were right - it was completely corked." While it was nice to have the reassurance, I snarkily thought this was a bit condescending - as if we, the customers, could be wrong (after all, the customer is always right, right?), or somehow he'd doubted our wine expertise (which is fine, but he shouldn't tell us he doubted it). The wines were good but unmemorable, and the wine-tasting notes accompanying the bottles were neither tasting notes nor grammatically correct. I cringed on a regular basis as mistakes that any decent word processing program would catch appeared before my eyes. The descriptions of the wines were clearly aimed at an audience who'd never had a Shiraz before, explaining the grape, provenance, and some flowery words describing basic flavors common to all. I actually think this is a good thing, as I want people who know nothing about what they're drinking to have a working knowledge. At the same time, it would've been nice to have a few more specific descriptors for the particular wine in the flight, if even a "it's representative of its type."
The tapas were mostly good, with some hit or miss notes. The slow-roasted chicken with mirepoix veggies was exquisitely done. I'd go back for that. The crab cakes left much to be desired, but there are few places out here that serve them to my exacting food snob standards. The cheese platter was good, but was left wanting through poor service more than anything else. Our waiter didn't announce which cheeses were which, and when asked (after, admittedly, we'd had a few bites), he confessed he didn't know, especially as we'd all had a bite, but he'd go find out (we hadn't moved the remaining cheese, so it shouldn't have been a big deal). There wasn't enough bread, and when we asked for more, he brought a mix of baguette slices, some of which had been toasted, some of which were cold - refrigerator cold.
All in all, we decided that, for our money, this was not the best of deals. Perhaps it deserves another try on a less-busy night. We'll see.