Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cafe Granada

I don't have much experience with Spanish food, although it deeply intrigues me. At the moment, I am particularly interested in tapas for the very simple reason that the small plate concept is the perfect way for me to appease my desire for a meal consisting of many tastes of many small things rather than a large entree with only one or two flavor variations.  It also works beautifully for Kid Cayenne and I, who have very different ideas about what we want to eat.  Ordering 5 or 6 small plates allows us to share food that we both enjoy while keeping a few things just to ourselves.  

For New Year's Eve, we wanted a quiet dinner close to home.  We chose to go to Cafe Granada on Carrollton for tapas.  We had been there once before and had mostly liked it.  It wasn't perfect, but had potential and warranted a second visit before we formed a firm opinion.

Cafe Granada's tapas menu is separated into Hot, Cold and Vegetarian dishes.  They also offer soups, salads, entrees and desserts, but we were mostly interested in the tapas.  We ordered:

Zucchini Fritters ($5): julienned strips of zucchini battered and deep fried, served with a saffron aioli.  We had ordered this the last time we came and loved it.  It was just as good the second time.  The batter was light and very crisp, the zucchini sweet and perfectly tender crisp inside.  A sprinkle of fresh lemon juice over the top and then a quick sweep through the aioli made this dish so delicious that we almost fought over the last few pieces. 

Patatas Bravas ($5): potatoes sautéed in spicy tomato sauce and aioli.  Kid Cayenne wasn't happy with these (although the tomato sauce when mixed with the aioli did create a really delicious third sauce that we ended up dipping other things in).  Unfortunately, the potatoes were a bit overcooked and lackluster, not to mention completely inundated by sauce, so it brought the whole dish down.

Pollo a Ajillo ($6): chicken sautéed in garlic sauce, finished with sherry vinegar.  This dish was a big disappointment to both of us.  It was simply chunks of bland chicken breast in what may as well have been a cream of chicken soup gravy.  Even the garlickiness (garlic generally wins us over) was unable to convince us that we should have more than a bite.  Awful.

Manchego and Salami Board ($12?): This was a special of the night consisting of salami and another cured meat that I do not recall, slivers of manchego cheese, and a small dish of olives.  I am a huge salumi fan and was looking forward to overindulging on this platter.  Sadly, the quality was nowhere near where it needed to be.  The salami was mealy and the texture unrefined.  The other meat contained so much gristle that I could not finish the first slice.  The manchego was OK but the olives were too soft. I was very, very disappointed.

Lamb Chorizo ($8): Open flame grilled lamb chorizo served with fries and creole mustard.  This was actually pretty good.  The grilled chorizo was flavorful and just the right amount of spicy for my taste.  The accompanying mustard was a nice counterpart for it, although lacking the coarse texture that I associate with Creole mustard.  The shoestring fries were hot, crisp and delicious (really nice dipped in the sauce from the patatas bravas that I mentioned earlier).  I was happy with this dish.

For dessert, we split a créme brulée ($5) which was truly the worst créme brulée that either of us had ever eaten.  Served cold, with a soggy sugar topping, a lumpy cream texture and no depth of flavor, it was a major letdown.  

All in all Cafe Granada blew hot and cold, heavy on the cold side.  The service was adequate, the wine list was ok, they did a couple of things well and a lot of things not very well.  I think this was probably the last time we go.  It just isn't really worth it when there are so many other good places to eat in the city.
Cafe Granada on Urbanspoon


Unknown January 9, 2010 at 5:12 PM  

It's a bummer when a place lets you down. The lamb chorizo intrigues me. They do a spicy lamb sausage at Bar Symon that is sofa king good.

NOJuju January 9, 2010 at 5:59 PM  

@Melissa. Yeah. Ah well. At least the cava was good!

Larry Mac January 10, 2010 at 2:54 PM  

The creole mustard looks identical to the aioli, and I agree, a good mustard should have some grit. The patatas bravas looks like it had way too much sauce for my taste, but then again my only real tapas experience was in Dublin, so I'm no expert.

Annie Bleecker January 11, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

The worst bottle of wine I've ever been served was at Cafe Granada....some sort of rose that came to the table warm. When I asked the waitress for a bucket of ice she looked at me like I had nipples on my forehead. Anyhoo, it tasted all too similar to Boone's and was followed by an equally horrific hangover. I haven't been back since.

NOJuju January 11, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

LOL, flojindamesa. No one wants warm rose and nippleface looks.

ArkansasJeepGirl January 15, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

Have you been to Baru? Tapas from Columbia I think. It is probably Lisa's favorite restaurant. I'm glad you reviewed Cafe Grenada because I will mark that off my list of places to try in NOLA.

NOJuju January 15, 2010 at 9:52 AM  

We've not been to Baru. When it first opened, I had heard that it wasn't great, so we never went. Maybe it's time to check it out.

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