Monday, April 14, 2008

Cafe Sevilla

I've had my eye on Cafe Sevilla for quite awhile now and today was the perfect excuse to go: a buddy's birthday. And as many of you readers are well aware, birthday bashes in college ain't nothin' without plentiful alcohol. While the usual go-to plan is to eat out before coming back to the house for some good drunken fun, I took charge this time and suggested we do something different: tapas + drinks followed by wine and cheese after an interlude.

Happy Hour (weeknights only) at Cafe Sevilla ends at 6:30pm. Drinks are half off, though it depends on the day's special. Tonight was mojitos night. In addition, tapas are also half off. Please note that these prices are only valid in the tapas bar section of the restaurant. You'll be standing right in it when you walk into Cafe Sevilla.

And as many of you already know, tapas are small dishes of Spanish appetizers. Folks usually eat 'em along with drinks.

My party of six ordered so many tapas and drinks that I had no room to set up my photography equipment, much less aesthetic shots. Forgive the use of flash...

One of three available mojito variants: pomegranate

Freshly Baked Bread and Alioli:

Homemade Alioli & Andalusian tomato sauce w/ Kalamata olive loaf or traditional French loaf (serves 2)

This picture features the ever-boring French loaf. We also got the olive loaf (so much better.), but the entire serving was pretty much all gone before I could snap a good photo. Hungry people don't wait for anything. Hell, I couldn't wait to dig in either. Both sauces were very good.

Tortilla Espanola:

Savory egg, onion and potato tart.

I remember reading a post by Charlie about how much his girlfriend enjoyed the tortilla espanola here. Apparently, Cafe Sevilla's rendition is comparable to what you'd find in Spain! I really enjoyed this appetizer. The tart was nice and fluffy with thin layers of potato inside. The accompanying mushrooms were cooked in a tangyand really fragrant broth? sauce? Who cares? They were great. I usually try something new when I revisit a restaurant, but I'll make an exception for this tart. It's that good.

Empanada Barcelona:

Salmon mousse, shrimp, sautéed spinach, rice, raisins and pine nuts baked in a puff pastry, topped with cranberry port sauce.

To be honest, I've never had an empanada before. Shocking, I know. I've just never got around to trying it! Really! Due to my lack of exposure, I'm not sure if the empanada is supposed to be flaky or doughy... Just from looking at the surface, I assumed it would be flaky like those BBQ pork pastries you find from dim sum, but actually it was kinda doughy. Maybe my empanada sat on the plate for too long? After all, its filling is hot, which might contribute to condensation and result in a damp empanada. I don't know. Anyway, though the empanada boasts of many ingredients in the filling, I found the dominant flavor to be the salmon mousse and a hint of shrimp. The cranberry port sauce can be overwhelming if you get overzealous like I did. Use it sparingly in each bite or else you'll taste nothing but berries. All in all, a pretty fun dish.

Grilled Spanish Sausages:

-Chorizo Bilbao, Morcilla & Chistorra with red onion-

Yes I have a picture. And no, I won't post it. I didn't realize how unappetizing it looked until I started processing the RAWs from tonight. I blame the sauteed red onions for ruining the picture. In any case, the sausages were pretty salty. No surprise there I guess, so it was a good thing we had ordered bread. Honestly, I found them to be much more enjoyable when eaten with bread. I'm not really a sausage kinda guy, so I didn't find these to be particularly interesting. There's really nothing remarkable about them. Go ahead and try them if you'd like. It's only $4!

Seafood Paellla:

This isn't formally on the tapas bar menu. Our server told us about it and I assume it's just a scaled down version of the paella they usually serve. For $12.95 I sure got a lot of seafood. This shot is only of half the portion. Pretty good deal I guess. The rice was nice and toothy, very well flavored from the juices of the seafood. This was SO much better than the paella I had at The Prado two years ago, which was extremely salty. Cafe Sevilla's seafood paella relies more on the shellfish, shrimp, and calamari to flavor this dish. Shame on you, Prado. As good as the paella was, I wouldn't recommend getting it unless you'll be sharing it with at least three other people. Having just a few drinks, three tapas, some bread, and a few bites here and there from friends' orders was already more than enough to fill me up. I practically took the entire paella home.

My party also ordered:

Fried calamari, which was top notch. Crispy, light batter fried to a golden brown, calamari here is the best I've ever had. The best part about the calamari was that you could actually TASTE the calamari. Too many times have I had fried calamari that tasted of nothing but batter and oil. Also, though the calamari is fried, I was very surprised to see that each piece wasn't greasy at all! Kickass.

Cheese Fundito (with sausages): "Spain meets Mexico again! Baked Manchego & goat cheese With Chorizo sausage". This plate actually came with toasted bread to scoop up the melted cheese. If you like grilled cheese sandwiches, this is a must-get. Adding sausages is an option ($1), but really though, they didn't make much of a difference.

Manchego Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic: This was a really creamy and rich mashed potato. The flavor of roasted garlic was more than I'd like, however. Good, nonetheless.

There were also other items I did not get to taste, such as the meat paella (also $12.95) which was very well received. Sevilla was extremely generous with the meats, which consisted of sausages, a small grilled chop, grilled beef, and pork. Meat was so tender that a fork was enough to cut 'em. I gotta make room and order this next time.

The chicken ajillo was recommended by our server, and four people ordered it. Only two came (we didn't get charged for the other two), but those who did get a taste said it was really good.

There you have it folks. Happy Hour at Cafe Sevilla. Sure beats the hell out of PB Bar and Grill. But how dare I compare the two? Sevilla is way out of PBB&G's league.

***NOTE: I think it would be nice to mention in each of my posts how vegetarian-friendly a restaurant is. After all, though most people are carnivores, I'm sure we all have friends who are vegetarians and they'd like to hang out too! Vegetarians have many options at Cafe Sevilla. Check out the tapas menu (first page).***

Cafe Sevilla
555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

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