Ole Tapas Bar, Studio City - Great!
A group of six went to Ole Tapas restaurant in Studio City on Saturday night. Though I made a reservation via their website, they didn't have my reservation in the computer when we arrived. However, they didn't bat an eyelash and seated us right away.
The atmosphere is very bold Spanish: dark maroons and reds, deep brown woods, splashy paintings on the walls. We persued the menu and ordered a very reasonably priced bottle of cab sav ($24) and a few drinks for the non-wine drinkers.
For the meal, we shared:
*Red Snapper ceviche with avocado mash: Very nicely sour/tart and the fish was fresh and delicious. Great pairing with the avocado mash.
*Red onion and orange salad w/balsamic: Great combo, very good.
*Seared scallops with eggplant caviar and mango sauce: Good enough, but there was some grit in the scallops - must have not been washed properly. The taste was decent, but nothing special.
*Grilled flatiron steak with anchovy butter: Great steak - perfectly cooked. But the butter had no hint of anchovy flavor. The meat was so good, however, it didn't need anything at all.
*Snails and chorizo in a spicy cream sauce: FABULOUS!!! This was a real eye-opener; I would have never dreamed of such a combination. Next time, I would happily eat just this dish and bread - the sauce is perfect for dipping.
*Goat cheese and tomato bruschetta: Fresh and good.
*Fried goat cheese with honey: Delicious - another favorite. These look like little fritters and are very crispy and slightly sweet on the outside, and tangy and creamy on the inside.
*Roasted potato with serrano ham: Another great flavor combo - everyone enjoyed this as well.
*Tuna and goat cheese empanada: Though we had a table full of goat cheese lovers (can you tell?), this is one combo that just doesn't work. It was bland and just weird.
*Chilled Spanish nougat: I had only one bite of this dessert, and it was all right. Very almondy and thick. Not quite sweet enough.
Overall, we had a great time at Ole and the tapas were quite impressive. The snail and chorizo dish alone is a reason to go back. The service was spot-on; the waitress was there when we needed her but never hovered. And the price was right: Including a generous tip, the bill came out to $35 per person. That's with all the food above, one bottle of wine, one glass of wine, two beers and three cocktails. Just one thing: Call for reservations and skip using their website system.
hmm... i went there a couple of months ago for the second time, and i thought it was pretty average (which was my reaction on my first visit). the only thing that stood out was the flatiron steak.
and don't even bother with the dessert menu.
good white sangria, though a bit too sweet for my taste.
re: Liquid Sky
Part of the problem is that the Food Police won't allow tapas to be served like they are in Spain -- you know, serve-yourself pintxos, and cazuelas of various dishes behind the bar next to the wine bottles... so you'll never get that Spanish vibe.
That said, and concentrating on the food, Black Sheep Bistro in Tustin has some of the best tapas ever. If they expanded their tapas menu a bit they'd be the number-one home-run winner of the tapas contest... you've got to try the lamb chops, you've got to try the quail. The dates (figs in season) wrapped with pernil serra (serrano ham) are perfect -- and the wines are $5-$7 a glass.
I like Ole... it's fine, though the decor makes me want to hurl -- but that white sangria is revolting. I just drink red wine while I'm there (and the last time I went, about a year ago, they had no cava on their menu -- something about punishing Catalunya for pushing for independence from Spain).
re: Liquid Sky
Having lived in Spain, I can tell you that tapas in Los Angeles is generally terrible...with Cobras y Matadors being the most famous of the bad. And people appear to have no basis to judge (La Paella is rated 9.2 and I couldn't even eat the tortilla).
I've been meaning to try Tinto, which was featured in Daily Candy but haven't seen any reviews yet.
Even more hopeful, Joe Miller from Joe's on Abbott Kinney is supposed to be opening Bar Pinxto. By the name, would indicate Basque influence (which is a good thing). Anyone have any more info on it?
7511 Santa Monica Boulevard, at Gardner Street
West Hollywood (323-512-3095).