The Tapas Tree

We couldn’t imagine a more apt setting—with the sun setting in the background—for a sexy tete-a-tete at a Spanish cantina. This newest tapas spot in town boasts modern Mediterranean décor with mosaic tiles filling out every corner, and wide open arches invitingly leading the way to cozy armchairs within. Outdoors, however, is where all the people-watching action takes place, and where we chose a breezy table at which to dine. A word of caution: know thy cuisine. Spanish tapas is traditionally served between meals, and servings are bite-sized. We were impressed with the sautéed shrimp in olive oil. Generously bathed in olive oil and garlic, the prawns were succulent, sweet and salty. The gravy was divine; it is a good idea to keep a basket of homemade bread at the side for wiping the dish clean. The Tapa—pan-fried thinly sliced beef—reminded us of the beef in soya sauce you get at Chinese restaurants. We also sampled delightful morsels of grilled asparagus wrapped in a thin layer of ham—it brimmed with flavor. It was almost perfect, if not for the less than fresh shellfish served. The oven-baked clams with garlic and cheese were disappointingly rubbery and minute. We weren’t very impressed with the shrimp cocktail with tomato and cucumber salsa either; it was reminiscent of low grade prawn cocktails drowned in Thousand Island sauce. Thirty minutes into our tapas—as prescribed in the menu—the suitably moist Paella de Mariscos arrived. The seafood rice had a good dose of tiger prawns and calamari rings, although the not so perfect shellfish was also evident. We started to suspect it was not market day. Desperate to end the meal on a bright note, we ordered churros with homemade chocolate sauce and caramel custard. The Churros was rather bland with a hint of saltiness; we had to request an extra serving of the chocolate dip. There were scant locals when we dined—we figured the concept of tapas and wine is still new to the scene. It was a relatively uninspiring meal, with scattered bits of near hits. Go for a laid-back siesta with a great view.