Greetings Eaters and Readers!
This month’s pick was:
Little España – Tapas Bar, Paella & Sangria
11036 Elm St
Fare: Authentic Spanish, specializing in tapas, paella and house-made sangria
Cost: $50 for shared drink, tapas and desserts
Reservations: Strongly recommended
Continuing on our unintentional European tour, Jaclyn chose Little España in Rockbrook Village, a quick turn off of I-680 and West Center Road. A small but accommodating space, our 6:30pm reservation was perfectly timed. As soon as we took our seat in a cozy corner near the music stage, the restaurant filled up around us.
Our server Alex quickly approached and got us started on our Spanish conquest. We threw out a disclaimer right away – we were going to have oodles of questions and needed a thorough education on all things tapas. “What are tapas? How do we eat them? What do we eat them with? How are they served?” Alex was patient and kind and she deftly explained how it all worked: each dish or ‘tapas’ is a small serving meant to feed a few people and typically, a person will order two or three tapas with the intent of sharing with the table.
Tapas come in a variety of offerings: cold, hot, vegetarian, meat and seafood. We decided to order two each in attempt to experience a little bit of everything. Jaclyn ordered Pimientos and Bocata; Martha ordered Datiles and Croquetas. While we waited for the tapas to be prepared, we opted to split a small bottle of the house-made sangria ($29). Instead of buying a glass at a time ($7.25), the bottle poured more than 4 glasses and carried us through all the way to dessert.
After answering a few more of our questions, Alex had just one for us: “Do you want the tapas to come out one by one/spread out or do you want everything all at once?” Eager to dive in, we told her to bring it all out together. And we were off:
House Sangria — smooth and easy to drink with chunks of apple. We both agreed it was worth ordering, but we have had better.
Tapas No. 27 — $9.50
Datiles (hot) — dates, serrano ham, blue cheese, almond, sangria reduction. The first tapas to hit our table – we were pleasantly surprised with this one. Small, warm, creamy with a hint of crunch (the almond). These are perfectly popable and have a hint of sweetness to them.
Tapas No. 30 — $12
Bocata (hot) — chicken, chorizo, caramelized vegetables, spicy aioli. The second tapas to arrive turned out to be our favorite – likely because it was the most familiar tasting to our palate. Small, handheld sandwiches with only one problem: served 3 at a time and we had to fight over the last few bites.
Tapas No. 28 — $9
Croquetas (hot) — crispy chicken dumplings, serrano ham, aioli. These weren’t what we expected. Crunchy and warm on the outside, the inner texture was creamy, not solid like you might expect with chicken and ham as ingredients. And there was the slightest hint of a seasoning or flavor we couldn’t pinpoint. “It kind of tastes the way the Christmas aisle smells in a store?!” Cinnamon? Nutmeg? By the time we thought about it – it was gone. The aioli – take it or leave it. It only adds more creamy.
Tapas No. 10 — $8
Pimientos (cold) — piquillo peppers, goat cheese, almonds, balsamic. The last tapas to arrive was our least favorite. The texture of the cold, soft pepper was hard to get past. But we improved the experience by spreading the insides onto bread. We feel like we disappointed our server Alex – this one came highly recommended and she swore no one who has tried it has ever NOT liked it. We feel like we ruined her record.
“I know which dessert I want. So much so that if you don’t want it, I’m getting my own.”
Jaclyn loves tres leches cake, so ordering their lemon cake soaked in three milks ($7) was a no-brainer. It was very dense, unlike any tres leches cake she’d had before, but it was great.
Martha got the Flan ($7), which had Spanish egg custard with caramelized sugar. Yums all around – cold, creamy with a tease of burnt sugar taste.
Little España was a pretty solid experience from start to finish. We enjoyed the atmosphere, the service, the live Spanish guitar music, the food education and the food itself. We would absolutely recommend Little España to both local and visiting friends and family. The menu is so big and varied, you can go back again and again and discover something new every time. We look forward to our next visit. Forks up, everyone!
Martha and Jaclyn