May 5, 2015

No mas Paloma

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Dinner with No Fish always involve finding a place which neither of us have been to.  For the last few months that job was made easy thanks to the South China Morning Post, as I was a guest contributor for their First Served column and visited a brand new restaurant once a month.  Now that I'm no longer skewering newbies on their dime, it's back to passing the buck back and forth between No Fish and I...

...and we finally settled on La Paloma, which we had discussed a little while ago.  Since it's run by the same people behind El Willy, I figured the food would be pretty decent.  And I wouldn't be wrong.

We looked over the menu and began to place our order.  Both of us were disappointed when we were told that la paloma - the roasted pigeon which also happens to be the namesake of the restaurant - was sold out.  WTF?!  Before 8 p.m.?!  So we had to make do with something else less appealing...

Bacon con queso - this arrived way too quickly after we placed our order.  Biting into the "explosive baguette" released the liquid cheese sauce inside, but unfortunately it was only lukewarm.  Flavors were not bad, though.

Sardinillas - delicious baby sardines from a tin, on a bed of salmorejo and served with melba toasts.  This was delicious, but there was one problem.  The proportion of sardines and melba toasts was completely out of whack.  There should have been double the amount of toasts, so that we could scoop up more of the salmorejo.

Callos - how could one resist the temptation of tripe, chorizo, and morcilla?!  Any one of those would have been delish, but to combine them in a stew was just heavenly.  Very hearty, and something I just love to have.

Churrasco de buey - the beef short rib was our consolation prize... and while it was reasonably tasty, I can only imagine what the pigeon would have tasted like.

Cochinillo - Spanish restaurant are usually able to deliver when it comes to suckling pig, and I'm happy to report that this dish did not disappoint.  Crispy, paper-thin crackling with a layer of milky, buttery fat underneath.  Meat that was oh-so-tender.  Heavenly.  Underneath was a layer of potato "pancake" made with layers of wafer-thin slices of potato stacked together, with wafer-thin slices of tomato.  Very nice. The only issue I had was over-seasoning, and I was ever so grateful that I asked for that big bottle of mineral water.

I was actually a little stuffed, thanks to the suckling pig, so I was a little relieved to see that No Fish had no interest in any of the desserts.  I certainly didn't need the extra calories tonight...

While I thought the food was pretty good, we didn't have a good dining experience overall.  The two of us were seated by the window, but there were several large tables nearby who were very, very loud.  The acoustics of the place was terrible, and the whole evening I had to lean forward in order the hear what my dining companion was saying to me.  When two people sitting directly across each other have trouble carrying on a conversation, it starts to feel like a nightclub or a bar instead of a restaurant.  So, yeah, we got out of there as quickly as we finished the food.

But maybe I should have known better because, after all, the place calls itself a "sexy chiringuito tapas bar".  So yeah, it's a bar... without a liquor license to serve alcohol.  But what exactly, may I ask, was supposed to be "sexy" about it?

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