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Jan 4, 2009 10:28 AM

Apamate - South and 16th

Hi all-

Went to this BYO Spanish/Venenzualan place last night. I went in really wanting to like it given that the prices looked great, it's a beautiful space, and I like the idea of a tapas place that is a little lower-key than Amada.

Overall, however, I didn't feel as though the food and portion sizes represented a good value for the money.

First, the good: Like I said, it's a beautiful space. The front table in the window looks like an awesome place for a group of 8-10. The wild mushroom confit was reasonably tasty. The rib-eye entree was well-cooked. The capricho goat cheese was quite good with the blood orange on top. The beets 3 ways was an incredible bite of food.

However, that leads me to the bad:
Portion size. For $5, we got 2 bite-sized beet chips topped with beets. As tasty as it was, I couldn't get over that it seemed overpriced. The wild mushroom confit was $6 and had a single toast topped with the mushrooms. While the rib-eye was well-prepared, it only came with some patatas on the side and certainly didn't justify the $25 price-tag.
Also, the hearts of artichoke & blanched asparagus were quite bland.
Finally, the churros, which I had read so much about, were missing the sweetness that churros should have.

The service was above average. However, an overzealous water-pourer knocked her pitcher into my arm as I was trying to serve something into my plate. And gratuity was included for our group of 5.

Hopefully, this was an off-night as I have heard wonderful things about this place. There is obviously a lot of skill in the kitchen (the beets really were outstanding). And I understand the idea of pintxos and picas are mini-tapas. I just wish the value was there.

Would love to hear others' thoughts.

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  1. This is kind of an old post, but I see no one has replied and I'm intrigued b/c Apamate is one of my very favorite places to eat. I love being able to get Spanish food in a less chichi environment than some of the other places in town.

    I guess I'm puzzled about your comment on the price/value... now I'm the first to admit I don't eat out as much as I used to, and when I do, these days it tends to be more on the cheap/ethnic/casual side instead of serious temples to gastronomy. So I may not be the most with-it about present price/value for local restaurants, but although I'd love for the prices to be lower, I feel I'm getting good value for the money at Apamate. As you said, tinxtos are normally very tiny... and if you notice, the foods in the tinxtos at Apamate are either very labor-intensive to prepare, expensive ingredients, or both.

    I think if I were trying to eat there for a smaller tab (and I'm not, because we don't go that often so when we do it's a special treat) I'd try to stick more with the entrees than the tinxtos. IME it's true everywhere that ordering a bunch of small plates is not the cheapest way to go.

    I also have never found the churros to be lacking in sweetness - but then, I find many desserts *too* sweet - cloying, cheap, sugary, lacking sophistication in texture and fragrance. So my bias is to prefer a less-sweet dessert.

    So I guess when you say you found it overpriced, I'm left wondering... compared to what? Sincere question! :-)

    1. I am also a fan of Apamate. In general, tapas places serve small amounts of food, so my expectations of quantity are never that high. Remember that the restaurant business is to a large degree a real estate game, so even if they give you less food, they have the same overhead, so the ratio of price to quantity needs to be higher.

      Service is admittedly (ahem) youthful, but usually very nice and well-meant.

      I particularly enjoy having something like this close to the theatres, but far enough that you don't get the usual pre-theatre crowd.


      1 Reply
      1. re: FrancisdeR

        I hear your points but do agree with the original poster - IMHO their are small plates and SMALL plates. I had a similar experience years ago at Bar Ferdinand where we spend $100 and left hungry.

      2. We went this past weekend on a visit from NYC for brunch and thought it was a terrific value for brunch. Our check was $20 for 2 entrees, coffee and tea.

        We had the eggs with chorizo and potatoes -- which was a delight and a surprise. The eggs, were, well, eggs; but the strips of chorizo with them were divine and a lovely complement. The potatoes were unlike any potatoes I've had with brunch -- like soft, spicy potato chips. Those didn't last very long.

        We also got the toast and poached egg with stewed eggplant and vegetables. I was on the fence about ordering this because vegetables in that sort of ragout are often mushy and bland. These, however, were just firm and crisp enough and nicely spiced -- it went very well with the poached egg and toast.

        The service was excellent, and on my next visit to Philly, I would definitely return.