Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comida de Mar.. far from Marvelous

An intense craving for seafood a few Saturdays ago led us to take the journey beyond burritos into the world of seafood. We really wanted to experience a true New York seafood experience while adding some Latin flavor. If you ask most New Yorkers where to go for a complete seafood experience, they’ll point you to the Bronx or a little island Southwest of the Bronx called City Island.

Without reading reviews we blindly decided to check out Tapas, a seafood restaurant in City Island that specializes in Latin cuisine. The day was sunny and the drive up there was a welcomed break from the city rush.

City Island was originally named New City Island to rival Manhattan as a seaport town. Throughout the years it has sustained itself primarily on maritime industries such as boat building and fishing. Now it struggles to maintain the small town feeling as it gets crowded with weekend restaurant goers.

We parked in a rocky parking lot in the back of the restaurant and realized there was no view of the water from any seat in the house. This was sort of a disappointment since other, more affordable restaurants in City Island offer outdoor seating next to the water.

We sat down and were greeted by a waiter who was probably no more than 14 years old. I didn’t know whether to ask for a suggestion on the menu or whether he could suggest some good Saturday morning cartoons.

Jaquie and I both agree that the best food item we tasted was the bread. It was freshly baked with no special frills; it was just a crispy outside and soft and warm inside.

We skipped the appetizers since we polished off two baskets of bread and were noticing from other customers that the entrees could easily feed two people.

Jaquie’s paella was orange; a sure sign that saffron was either not used or paired with a large amount of tomato sauce. Lesson learned, before you order paella make sure it’s authentic yellow paella made primarily with saffron. Saffron is a very expensive spice and some chefs might replace it with other ingredients to cut costs. As if the paella wasn’t defunct already, the plate also included quite a bit of chicken which is not traditionally a meat that is included in this dish and wasn’t called out on the menu when listing the proteins. Jaquie was not happy and neither were the paella gods.

I ordered the seafood platter in butter sauce. It included lightly breaded tilapia, shrimp and calamari. I am obsessed with butter so I didn’t mind that the entire plate was swimming in a buttery garlic sauce. The first few bites were delicious but then the sauce overwhelmed even a butter sauce fanatic such as myself.

Tapas does not deserve a return visit except for the bread, especially given the high prices for sub-quality eats (entrees are $20-$30). We figured if we ever do return, we would split one appetizer and overdose on the wonderfully baked goodness.

Jaquie indulging in some lime and tabasco. Now that's what I call "easy to please".

Tapas on Urbanspoon