This Spanish tapas restaurant in the heart of Carmel definitely exceeded my expectations. I didn’t have high hopes when the extremely chatty and folksy host, after determining it was our first time at the restaurant, launched into an explanation of what tapas are (we’ve eaten at many tapas restaurants around the world, including Spain), and then went on to urge us to each order the hamburger sliders, which were the least Spanish cuisine oriented item on the menu. But in fact this turned out to be one of the better of the tapas restaurants I’ve eaten at in California. The first pleasant surprise was their cocktail menu, particularly their complex and interesting variations on gin and tonic; we ended up having three different drinks and enjoying every one. The charcuterie plate was fabulous, the fried garbanzo beans with white truffle salt were irresistible, the croquetas (deep fried fritters of smoked bacon, olive and béchamel) were delectable, and the bacon-wrapped dates were rich and flavorful. The wine selections were good and featured one of our favorite hard to find Albarinos by the glass. The lemon cake dessert was good, but the real revelation was the Spanish Lustau brandy, aged in Madeira casks; we had no idea Spain produced such great brandies, and very different from the standard French ones. Service was generally attentive and friendly.
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