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620 Trounce Alley Victoria, BC V8W 1K3
Tastiness Factor: 3.5/5
Locavore Approved? Probably not…large menu, no seasonal specials. Did have a nice selection of BC wines.
My first week in Victoria has been quite busy so this was really my first chance to get out with my hubby and some friends to unwind a little. I happily assumed the task of choosing the restaurant. I was looking for a fun place, not too expensive, that offered a wide variety of dishes for different tastes since we were a party of 10. I perused the internet to search out such a locale and came across Tapa Bar that I remembered seeing downtown when we had first arrived in the city. The menu looked quite elaborate, with lots of veg options (<a href="http://tapabar.ca/menu).http://tapabar.ca/menu).</p>
Tapa is tucked away downtown in Trounce Alley, a little lane near View and Government, although its neon sign makes it visible from either side of the alley. It has a small exterior, which gives way to a cozy little restaurant that was quite busy for a Thursday night. The décor is decidedly Spanish, with bright colored walls and lots of big bold paintings.
We had a reservation for 8:45, but showed up a little early so we had a seat at the bar while waiting for our table. They had a nice cocktail list with many creative drinks (would have loved to try one if I did not have to be at work at 7am the next day!). They also had a nice wine list with many BC wines (love that!).
We were seated about 15 minutes after our reservation. Our servers were quite friendly though so that was forgiven but there were a few other service blunders. First of all, it took quite a while to get our order taken, and then another long time before we were actually served. We chose to order tapas to share amongst the whole table (about 2/person). We were served all of the veggie dishes first, then all of the fish dishes, then finally the seafood dishes. We would have preferred to have more of a mix of dishes coming out, as the meat eaters had to wait quite a while for their food and the vegetarians in the group had nothing left to eat mid-way through.
Although I usually comment on each dish individually, I will pass on it time as we had a total of 16 dishes, some of which I did not try (chicken, meat). I will just highlight my favorites and some of the table favorites:
Kale- was grilled, giving it a lovely smoky flavor. Simple but delicious!
Eggplant- lightly covered in goat cheese in a very flavorful tomato sauce.
Cold marinated artichokes- these are the real deal, not just the jarred ones. Nice spice combination with garlic and cumin.
Pesto pizza- topped with pear, brie and walnuts on a crispy thin crust. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike loved this one!
Almond stuffed dates- Wrapped in bacon, the sweet and salty combo was a hit. The touch of almond gave a bit of a twist to the usual stuffed date.
Cubanette Con Pollo- This open-faced sandwich was a bit difficult to share but the flavours packed quite a punch.
Pollo Al Ajillo- My husband is a connaiseur of chicken wings and this version with white wine, butter and garlic certainly satisfied him.
And now to some of the less successful dishes:
Rice and beans- Bland, bland, bland, even for a bean lover like me.
Chorizo Fondue- While it may sound tasty, this dish just did not work. And it really looked quite unappetizing.
Mahi-mahi tostada- While the flavors worked OK, something was missing. Where was the fish??? I think I may have tasted one miniscule piece...
A few more general comments on the menu. Although the food above was tasty, I think their menu needs a little makeover. It should be MUCH shorter (so many choices are quite overwhelming). Also, their plating could use a little more pizazz- it seemed as though everything was served on a bed of lettuce. I also think they could make the portion sizes a little smaller so that a greater number of dishes could be enjoyed.
Overall, we had a great time at Tapa. Although the menu could use a little work, most of the dishes were pretty tasty and we did not leave much behind. We loved the atmosphere and the ability to order a selection of dishes to share. The service was sub-par at times, but always friendly. It was a entertaining first night out in Victoria!