Eight of us (well, seven of us… then joined by Ennlee an hour later *ahem*) played fancy and dined out at Cafe Madrid last Saturday. To our utter surprise, we spent four hours at dinner there. But hey, as maître d’ JC told our table as we arrived, Cafe Madrid is our home; our departure time was not until 2AM! Oh yeah…
THURSDAY, March 3rd, 2011
Made reservations and pre-ordered the Seafood Paella and Tortilla Española.
SATURDAY, March 5th, 2011
6:05PM – Alex, Michael, Tara and I carpool to Cafe Madrid.
6:20PM(ish) – Alex, Michael, Tara and I arrive at Cafe Madrid and are immediately seated.
6:30PM – Chi, Holly and her sister, Sophia arrive just in time for sangria!
SANGRIA: Although fantastically delicious (you can barely taste the alcohol, rather… it’s a delightful spritzer with diced apples and a hint of red wine), I did not have quite the buzz I would’ve hoped for after sharing four carafes with most of the table. I’d think the next time, we may opt for bottles of wine. At $22 a carafe, they are close enough.
7:00PM(ish) – Food ordered! Everyone agrees upon dining family style. I take the initiative as our server makes great appetizer suggestions to supplement our pre-orders and tell him to just order whatever he thinks we would enjoy! Tomas, our server, nods and politely takes our menus away (except for Ennlee’s because, you know…. she’s late). Let the feast begin!
7:10PM(ish) – Appetizers, wait… tapas grace our table in addition to the Tortilla Española!
PIMIENTOS del PIQUILLO RELLENOS de PESCADO: Probably my favorite tapa of the night! Roasted red piquillo peppers and stuffed with a seafood ensemble laid over a light wine sauce. Succulent, juicy and leaves a delicious zing in your mouth. The texture of the stuffing meshed wonderfully with the light tender peppers. These went great with the Tortilla Española.
CAZUELA de CHAMPINONES en SALSA de AJOS FRESCOS: Mushrooms served in a heaping bowl of garlic and white wine sauce. Fresh mushrooms are sooooo good!! The sauce that these mushrooms (I’m thinking they were white bellas mushrooms?) are served in is incredible mixed into the Paella (thanks to Tomas, we know that trick).
TORTILLA ESPAñOLA: Otherwise known as a “Spanish Omelet.” Holly had this in Spain and said she loved it. I love potatoes and it’s made mostly of potatoes! Woot woot. It’s pure starch (potatoes) and held together by egg with maybe some light seasoning thrown in there then, topped with what seemed to be like a creme fraiche and roasted red pepper slice. It’s good, but I would probably venture out to something more exciting next time rather than ordering this once again. And why does it require an advance order? It’s just potatoes and egg, right? Does it have to soak overnight or something?
7:45PM(ish) – Plates cleared. Bring on the next round! A colorful ceramic hot pad is placed on our table as well as a clear glass bowl next to it. At the site of those two items, we sensed our Paella coming. But what was the glass bowl for? Well, Chi told me a story about when she dined in Beijing and a similar bowl was placed next to her while eating seafood. It was filled with water and a squirt of lemon — she dipped her shellfish in there. Her neighbors were aghast as that bowl held water for cleaning your hands! Sad. I laughed really hard. Funny. Oh, our bowl at the table was for discarded shells from the Paella.
SEAFOOD PAELLA: Serving good for two. Or… in our case, good for seven. A huge pan full of delicious Spanish rice, shrimp, fish, mussels, clams and possibly more hidden gems. I had been craving Paella ever since Brian mentioned it one time, a long time ago. Craving sustained, but not satisfied! I WANT MORE. You just cannot eat at a Spanish restaurant without eating Paella. Yum. Remember to top it with that garlic white wine sauce from the mushrooms!
8:00PM(ish) – Ennlee arrives! YAY. She’s okay! Since she’s missed half of the family style dinner, she decides to order separately. Our entree and her chicken soup arrive shortly thereafter.
CHICKEN MARSALA: Fucking (sorry to use such profanity, but this dish demands exclamation to that effect) AMAZING! What is it about fresh mushrooms cooked so delicately and perfectly that makes them taste like a taste bud orgasm? I could eat a bowl of the mushrooms in the Marsala sauce, one bowl a day for years, before I would get sick of it. The chicken was also cooked perfectly — juicy, moist and just right. GET THIS DISH!
SOLOMILLO de BUEY al QUESO PICON de TRESVISO: Beef. BEEF. Tenderloin in a Roquefort cheese sauce. Again, the meat is cooked perfectly – juicy, moist and oh-so tender. Sandwiched in-between are potatoes and cheese. Very good, very good indeed. If you are not a Roquefort cheese fan, you will not like this dish very much. It’s also very reminiscent of Bleu and Gorgonzola cheeses. Hey, I love those cheeses so I had no beef. Haha. Get it? BEEF.
9:00PM(ish) – Holly had secretly told Tomas it was my birthday. We had already seen two birthday celebrations go on earlier and I wanted my celebration dammit! Holly made it happen.
Tomas brings out the single candle-lit flan plus the Cafe Madrid celebration beverage bladder (of what I had originally suspected of Sangria, but turns out… it’s just apple juice). I’m given warning to place my napkin as a bib and told the story of how you drink for 12 seconds to represent the 12 new months in your new age. Loud music is played, everyone sings and claps as Tomas tries his best to aim for my tiny mouth. Eye down, sweater soaked, but so fun, so exciting – it was awesome despite Holly’s excruciatingly worried looks.
FLAN: A custard (or pudding if you are more used to the Asian term) with a caramel sauce oozing over the top. Delicious! But yes, I’ve had better.
9:30PM(ish) – More desserts. After-dinner drinks.
STRAWBERRIES WITH YOGURT: Fresh strawberries in a thick vanilla yogurt topped with a condensed milk whipped cream. I’ll be honest. It was good, but I can’t say it was anything amazingly special.
SPANISH-STYLE TIRAMISU (I don’t remember what it was really called): Okay… I had one bite and it was good, but I don’t remember what was in it exactly! I remember a creamy chocolate mousse-like layer with ladyfingers and one of those chocolate wafer sticks.
BRANDY AND ESPRESSO (I don’t remember what it’s called!): A shot of brandy lit ablaze table-side then extinguished by a stream of espresso and accompanied by sugar to the amount of your liking. Now, I sometimes drink my coffee black. And always, I drink my coffee strong. I liked this beverage. Chi, on the other hand, dumped about a cup of sugar in it before getting accustomed to it. You decide.
10:30PM – Photos outside of the restaurant and goodbyes before we departed. Surprised at the time, we ended up being too tired to hang out afterward.
Amazing night. Amazing food. Amazing service. Amazing friends. Amazing time. I can’t wait to recoup my funds and go again.