Monday, January 2, 2012

No Check at Las Tapas

New Year's Eve in Old Town, Alexandria was "jumping" with kids attending First Night Alexandria with their parents.  It's a tough night to get a reservation, even tougher to find an opening but we were able to get a walk-in at Las Tapas on King Street.  They offered live flamenco dancing, wonderful Spanish guitar and a prix fix of $65 for an appetizer, dinner and dessert.  The place seemed a little bright but the staff was friendly and the waiter attentive.

The bread arrived warm and tasty for dipping in olive oil.  Wishing for something more than ground pepper and table salt, I requested and quickly received some fresh lemons to squeeze into the oil. The lemons turned out to be a good idea - more on that later.  The iced tea was fresh and refreshing.   Guitar was piped up from the bar and a little too loud for the space but was spicey and exciting.    My friend ordered a mixed seafood ceviche which was fresh and colorful.  I received a salad with fresh, crisp lettuce that was a little too mature, a tasty assortment of olives and a not too unripe tomato, but it was adorned with limp asparagus and some rather smelly sardines and came without dressing.   The waiter cheerfully exchanged it for a sardine-less bowl that had a side of salad dressing which I munched upon after adding a little lemonjuice for zing.

Dinner arrived and I'm sorry to report it was a disappointment.  In my opinion the chicken was too dry, the vegetables were undercooked and oily, and the food was bland.  I didn't try the rice.  The lemons came in handy to make the chicken more moist.  My friend's dinner seemed to be a big disappointment to him.  He had the same vegetables and steamed?/grilled? salmon served with a side of somewhat dried-out spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce.  It was an unusual pairing to say the least.  Hoping to have a fine dessert, a small flan arrived that was too bubbly - it should be smooth - and served with two thin slices of strawberry and a red and white decorative trickle of something that turned out to be raspberry and white chocolate on a large plate.  It was lost on such a large plate and strawberries and I don't mix well.  My friend's chocolate cake was cold and hard and he returned the desserts and ordered the check.  To Las Tapas credit, they desperately wanted to please and earnestly asked for our feedback.  They did not charge for the dinner and provided a generous gift certificate for a future return visit in the hope that we would give them another chance on a less busy evening.  New Year's is a hard time to review a restaurant.  Kitchen staff are stretched their thinnest when things are so busy and packed so this may not be the fairest assessment of Las Tapas capabilities but for New Year's eve the food just didn't make the grade.

Food - 1 fly; Customer Service - 5 butterflies   Will update this rating after I use the gift certificate.

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