Wednesday, November 30, 2011

¡Buen Provecho! at Spain Restaurant

Recently, while searching for a restaurant where we could enjoy some authentic Castilian food, my friend and I stumbled upon Spain Restaurant, a 40+ year resident of Greenwich Village, located on West 13th Street, off of 7th Avenue. We were in the mood for some "tapas" (Spanish for "small plate"), but I was skeptical at first when I saw that the menu appeared to focus on large entree items at premium prices. Nevertheless, something about the ambience of the restaurant drew us in, and I soon realized how wrong I was to doubt Spain Restaurant. The tastes I experienced that night will not soon leave my memory, and because most dishes are made to share, you can fill your belly without emptying your wallet. This surprising Spanish gem serves up delicious, creative dishes that you will want to eat time and time again.

"Paella Valenciana" at Spain Restaurant
Want to know more? I now offer a recount of our evening at Spain Restaurant so that you can experience it vicariously or, better yet, become mouth-wateringly enticed to run out this instant and try it:

We began our night by enjoying some wine at the bar, a full-bodied house red served up at only $5 per glass. Without even ordering a thing more, a waiter thereafter dropped off two steaming tapas plates to us -- tasty, spicy mini-meatballs ("sherry meatballs") accompanied by a potato dish smothered in some kind of tangy hot sauce ("patatas bravas"), all given to us to enjoy at no extra charge. While enjoying these tapas and waiting for a table, we informed the waiter that we would like to split some "gambas al ajilio" (garlic shrimp) to start, followed by a restaurant special paella for our meal.

When our table was ready, we were then led through a quaint corridor into a back dining room that had beautiful European-style paintings and sculpture adorning the walls. To our surprise, not only was our table exquisitely set, but waiting for our arrival was what looked like the beginning of a feast for a king. Our succulently sauteed garlic shrimp were set in the middle of the table, and in addition there was a delectable plate of what must arguably be some of the best chorizo this side of the Atlantic, another plate of lush claims topped with a sweet onion relish, bread, and bowls of salad. The salad was dressed in a barbeque sauce ... a strange combination at first sight, but it hit the spot. And, after all that, our meal was still far from over.

A delectable feast awaits us.... This is only the beginning.
Our waiter next brought over a large pot of "Paella Valenciana," a Spanish-rice based dish filled with fresh clams, shrimp, mussels, chicken and chorizo, and mixed with vegetables such as red pepper and peas. Spain Restaurant certainly does not skimp on portion sizes, and this one entree could have fed at least 1-2 more people. Despite engorging ourselves on the fantastic paella, there were plenty of leftovers. I only wished I had left room for dessert.

I must also note that the wait staff at Spain Restaurant were impeccable and their hospitality rounded out our culinary adventure. The waiters were friendly, and eager to chat with us (in both English and my high school level Spanish...). The restaurant itself was prim and clean, with a definite old-world charm. Considering how much fun we had, and how much we enjoyed the food and the service, the biggest surprise of all was probably the bill. For all of our food plus four glasses of that sultry house red, we paid only about $30 each (not including tip). What a fabulous find!

I cannot wait to try Spain Restaurant again, and I certainly plan to bring company. ¡Buen Provecho!

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