tapas teatro (sorta long)
enjoyed a pleasant time at 'first thursday'goings-on at the b.m.a. last night, and then the question came up: where to eat dinner? gertrude's at the bma has never really done it for me, and so we decided to see if we could get a table at the helmand. remember the good old days when, once upon a time, getting a later-on-a-weeknight table there would be no problem? these days, you'd better have a reservation! they're always so gracious about trying to accomodate the reservation-less guest with a table and often manage to do just that, but last night's wait would have been 45 minutes and we decided to try our luck elsewhere.
we decided on tapas teatro, since we both wanted something flavorful but on the light side. i'd eat at tapas teatro all the time if it were ever possible to get a table, but every time i've stopped in there over the past 4 or 5 months they've been swamped. (i don't think they accept reservations, but i could be wrong about that). last night, we must have hit the right time between movie start and end times at the charles theater because there were plenty of open tables, though not much later the place filled to capacity.
note for all late night diners in baltimore: i didn't realize this til last night, but tapas teatro serves til 2 am!
for some reason i wasn't as thrilled with my experience at tapas teatro as i have been on past visits, and neither was my companion. the food didn't seem to be as boldly or interestingly seasoned as it usually is. we had an ancho-marinated flank steak special that was completely bland, the usuallly excellent calamari were overgrilled and tough (should have sent them back, didn't) and a spinach, asiago and crab meat special was also mostly flavorless, though our server had raved about it to us. the dish definitely needed work, an additional ingredient or two to pick up and balance the flavors -- when the delicate flavor of spinach overwhelms an entire plate, that's a sign of trouble!
i'm just chalking the experience up to an off night, though, and plan to go back -- IF i ever luck into a table again!
who else has been to tapas teatro recently? any comments?
I haven't been to Tapas Teatro recently, but when I went last summer for the first and only time, my reaction was much like yours--I found the food cooked well but rather bland, which I guess would be the cardinal sin for tapas. I would like to chalk it up to being an off night, but I have to confess that I have not found one person whose food opinion I respect rave about their food. I chalk up its reputation more to the "see and be seen" ambiance rather than the actual execution of the food.
Besides, I don't own enough black clothing.
I've loved both visits and think it's a great place to go with a group of people who may not know each other very well because you get to share food, and the Sangria is nice too.
I've never thought of it as a place to "be seen", I mean it's connected to a movie theater and who goes to the movies to "be seen"?
My husband and I love it and we definitely don't go to be seen ( 55 years old and jean/sweat shirt types). Usually go to movie and then put in our name, get a glass of sangria and go wait in the lobby of the theater. Risotto cakes with tomato coulis, great sangria, best shrimp with garlic in town ( much better than Tio Pepe's, etc. I dont know who said "not much flavor, but I can't imagine what they ordered.
Last time ( 2 weeks ago) one special was a whole lightly fried ( really just sauteed) fish;I think rockfish. We didn't get it but it loked great and the couple behind us said it was very good.
I've recently moved to Baltimore from Philadelphia. I must say that I did not enjoy my meal at Teatro Tapas, but it was more than a matter of taste. By any objective standard, my meal was just bad.
Spinach with raisins and apples. The apples were excessively spiced with the usual suspects--nutmeg and allspice in abundance. They were entirely overhwhelming, and in fact amplified the naturally occuring metallic taste of spinach. As evidence of sloppy preparation, the pignoli were entirely raw (and didn't taste fresh--nearly rancid, actually). Toasted pignoli are not a lot to ask.
Simple tapas of dates, figs, almonds and cheese. What could be simpler? Four ingredients, five different temperatures. The figs were the generic store-bought, dried out, tasteless pieces of cardboard that I remember from 1970s cookie recipes. The dried figs were, at one time well before our meal, grilled. Starting with poor quality figs and then drying them out even more on a grill (and then serving them ice-cold), is a mistake.
Eggplant with mint-yogurt. The eggplant was entirely undercooked. Tough to the tooth, and slathered in store bought (??!!) tomato sauce and minted yogurt. Cold eggplant + hot reheated sauce + yogurt = sloppy unappetizing mess. I should have stopped eating with my eyes, because it got worse.
Roasted Beets. Well, there were beets there, somewhere. Formed into a timbale, the finely sliced beets were smothered in a thyme and mayonaise sauce. When I order beets, I like to taste beets. This was as if someone was trying to get a kid to eat them by smothering them in enough thyme-mayonaise goo that you may as well have been eating something else.
It got worse.
I don't get it. Philadelphia was a great food town, and I miss it. Amada for tapas was outstanding. At Teatro Tapas my neighbors (seated closer than most NYC establishments, where I lived before Philadelphia) were raving about their dinners. What gives? My tastes must be way off, or Baltimoreans are so starved for anything besides crabcakes that they'll oo and ahh for, what in my opinion, was one of the worst meals that I've ever paid for.
(Restaurants I like in Philadelphia: Southwark, Gayle, Ansil, Tangerine, Dinic's Pork, La Lupe, Plaza Garibaldi, Amada, etc.--a pretty eclectic taste at all price points). And to think, that the meal at Teatro Tapas was about the same cost as a meal at Southwark! I've been depressed for a week.
We, too, generally have been underwhelmed with visits to Tapas.
The majority of the dishes are underflavored or overflavored (I still remember an agressively vinagered sauce on a dish I had 1.5 years ago!). Occassionally they hit one out of the ballpark. But between the crowdedness, the pretense, and the hit-and-miss-ness of the place, I'm much happier at Zodiac across the street.
I too had a memorably bad dish there on my one and only visit soon after it opened. It was a rainbow trout with red onions in a citrus marinade that overwhelmed not just the fish but the onions as well. I would have forgiven that miscue if anything else had been memorable, but it wasn't.
We haven't been back. Given what's been posted in this thread, I probably won't.
In fairness, I did like their sangria.