Monday, May 26, 2008

Vega Tapas Cafe - The Cure for a Case of the Mondays

I love wine. But the only thing that I love more than wine is half-priced bottles of wine drunk alongside numerous plates of tapas. It just so happens that Vega has such a special every Monday night to allow for me to satisfy this particular indulgence, so off I went accompanied by The Folk Singer ("TFS").

Tapas fit my personal dining style to perfection. If it were up to me, I would order all appetizers for my entire meal and skip the entree. Unfortunately, when dining with a group of people, the multiple courses for myself would interrupt the flow of the meal for my fellow diners. But not such was the case on Monday night. TFS and I began with a few mojitos which were refreshing with mint and lime, and a perfect way to start the meal.

We decided to order a round of salad and cold tapas to start, and then judge our capacity later on for the rest of the menu. We were first served a roasted duck caesar salad, which consisted of a roasted duck leg paired alongside a caesar salad topped with a copious amount of freshly shaved parmigiano cheese. Though the duck leg was served room temperature and required stripping the meat off the bone, I appreciated both of these details for two reasons. First, I am not a fan of hot protein on top of a cold salad mix. I think that contrasting temperatures result in warm greens which were intended on being served cold. Second, I liked that the leg was served in tact because it assured the recent preparation of the meat, as opposed to precooked and shredded duck meat (which I have no problem with it, just making a note). These are minor details, but I thought that they were worth noting.

Our next two tapas were served simultaneously. The first was the plato de quesos, which was several cheeses accompanied by accouterments. I will admit, I have no idea what the cheeses were (and neither did our waiter), but I have no doubt that they came from the preeminent cheese mongers at St. James Cheese Company. The board had cheeses of varying strength and texture, but the accompaniments were what made the course. First, the fig mustard was incredible. It had the consistency of jelly but with the spiciness of mustard. To die for. Also included were slivers of tart pear, crunchy toast slices, and sugary sweet pecans. Our final cold small plate was a carpaccio of thinly sliced filet mignon topped with balsamic onions and sauteed mushrooms. The saltiness of the beef and the sweetness of the onions resulted in a delicious contrast of flavors on the palate.

On to the hot dishes. First a trio of tempura fried asparagus drizzled with a spicy aioli. Then a dish of huge shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil and then topped with a salty olive tapenade. Finally chicken, mushrooms, leeks and feta cheese wrapped in phylo dough and placed upon a pool of sherry butter. Quite honestly, by the time we had made it to the final round, the bottle of Sierra Cantabria Rioja had been downed and my stomach had reached capacity, but I will say that my favorite dish was the shrimp.

Vega on Monday night. You owe it to yourself to go. Just pretend that you are sitting in a quaint cafe in Madrid or along La Rambla in Barcelona. It will help you forget (at least for the duration of the meal) that you have four more days of work till the weekend.

Given the steal on the wines, Vega is a tap-in birdie on Monday nights.

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