Pazo - "eh"
Style over substance and meager wine pours to boot!
Went friday with a friend, we had a reservation for 9pm, wasn't seated until $9:35. The place was packed.
We decided to share a few dishes, first up came the Tonno Crudo: 3 small cubes of tuna, the piece I had was so lightly dressed it barely had anything on it and screamed for something, thank God there was salt on the table. The tuna was good quality but for $8, come on. Next up was the highlight of the night, potato and manchengo cheese croquetas. Tasty, perfectly fried and a good amount. I would get this again! Then they brought out the crispy calamari which were not crispy, and a teeny amount in a teeny bowl. It just wasn't good and didn't get finished, the aioli that came with tasted like store bought mayo. The worst of the evening was next, the Shrimp with garlic, chilis and tomato. They looked like, had the texture of and tasted like those small frozen salad shrimp. Wha....? That didn't get finished either. Lastly, the grilled local asparagus with "romescu" sauce. The asparagus were good, the sauce was nothing more then sliced almonds and diced red peppers, hardly something that would adhere to an asparagus stalk.
Needless to say, I was not impressed and even though I loved the croquetas, I probably won't go back. There are too many restaurants in this town that are way better!
So I have to add my 2 cents as I was also at Pazo on Saturday night. I have to say though, that I am actually going to speak favorably (well, mostly) of our experience (gasp!) I have been to Pazo only twice but I have genuinely really enjoyed it both times.
When my husband and I arrived were seated immediately for our 8 o'clock reservation. Having a small dining party is always bad news as you aren't going to get the best (or biggest) table. But I do agree with bmore flavor that the seating could stand to be more spaced out. When my husband and I go out for tapas, we like to really DO TAPAS... so I think we sampled around 9 or 10 of the menu items. We never felt the dishes (or we) were rushed - I believe we were there for almost 3.5 hours.
I cannot speak to the wine pour as we purchase wine by the bottle. But I think the house Red is quite good especially for $17 a bottle price. - NOT a fan of the new basket thing they have going on however. Hard to pour. The waitress had difficulties as well.
We started out with the trio of sharp artisanal cheeses and also ordered a loaf of the Pugliese. The cheeses were very good and the portions were quite substantial. I'll admit they skimped on the croutons but I'd much rather have too much cheese than too many croutons... so not really a complaint.
We then moved onto the Ceviche which I thought tasted very light and refreshing. Portion a tad small - but acceptable. Next came the Calamari. I will concede that they could have been a bit crisper... However I have never had a more tender fried calamari. I didn't taste the aioli as I am happy with a squeeze of lemon. But I personally enjoyed it very much. We also had the Shrimp with Garlic. The shrimp were small but ours definitely didn't have the same texture as a frozen salad shrimp. And the sauce was tasty. It came along with the Grilled Asparagus and the Romaine Hearts with sweet peppers, reggiano & sherry vinaigrette. The grilled asparagus were good, but agree that it wasn't really a romescu sauce. The dud for me however was the Romaine Hearts. This I just didn't get. Long unwieldy strands of roasted pepper just thrown atop the romaine hearts. And only $1 less than the Ceviche we loved... That was a horror!
We also ordered the Papas Fritas as my husband saw one of the cone's on a nearby table. He was hoping to relive our experience of Salt's duck fat french fries... No such luck.. However they were fine and you certainly cannot call the portion small. Again, I didn't try the aioli.
We next had a half order of Seared Sea Scallops with Chilis and Chick Pea Polenta, and a half order of the Grilled Hanger Steak. I love scallops and I thought these were wonderful. The chick pea "polenta" was also an interesting addition that I enjoyed. I have to admit I never tried the steak as I was enjoying the scallops so much. My husband wasn't raving about the steak however and kept looking longingly at my scallops. It was my birthday so I chose to be selfish and only give him one! :)
We rounded out the evening with espresso and the trio of ice cream (vanilla), sorbet (dark sour cherry) and granita (pineapple). All three good, but the sorbet and granita shined. Speaking of portion size, you would never think of coffees... However my espresso was miniscule. My husband had a double and I had a regular.. His was easily 3 times more coffee than mine.
So ,all in all, we really enjoyed the meal and the evening... I cannot compare it to how it was pre "new menu / new chef"... But if this is bad I would have really liked to have the chance to have tried it when it was great!
I agree with most of the replies concerning Pazo. I've already made comments on the venue. The table spacing is outrageously too close together. I DON'T appreciate large-bowled wine glasses without STEMS. I had to use two hands to lift my wine glassas the bowl was quite large (no stem for lifting) and the serving size was miniscule. I know it's a trend to drink wine out of stemless glassware, but anyone with any knowledge of wines knows that there is a definitive reason for stemmed glasses.
The food was decent at Pazo, but nothing noteworthy. And, the other factors made my dining experience less then pleasurable. No return visit anytime soon.
Mezze and Tapas Teatro are far superior, which seems to be the consensous of those who replied. FoiGras
I agree with all that's been said and would like to add one more thing. I was there on Saturday night for a 7:30 reservation and was seated right on time even though the place was filled. That was the last good thing that happened. Besides the plates being small and uninspired, the courses were brought out in such rapid-fire order that it was obvious the only thing they were interested in was turning the table.
And one last thing, I have no problem with a restaurant rounding off but if they're going to do that they should round down as well as UP!!!. my bill was something like $85.42. I was given change for $86. One final insult with an otherwise very mediocre meal.
I still think that when they first opened, Pazo was something special. I loved their take on food, the large amount of small plates, the flavors. It was all quite impressive. Each time I went, little changes made it less and less appealing. They constantly tweaked the menu, making it less and less interesting. Portions got even smaller. Food became awkward to share. And finally, the new chef and new menu. It's pretty sad what happened to a fun and interesting place.
Yes, I agree with that too. I do remember when they first opened, they had a huge selection of small plates to choose from, all sounding delicious, made it very hard to choose. And even before they started offering full portions, the selection of small plates seemed to really slide downhill.
Yeah, they were better a few years ago. My wife and I used to go there a lot before my son was born. We went there recently after a 2 year absence and were totally underwhelmed by the food and the changes to the menu. And the fact that a reservation means very little there (I get annoyed being seated an hour after the reservation) means it's hardly worth it for the few nights we get a babysitter.
Pazo has been taken off of our list of places to go in Baltimore.