Taberna, Bridgeport CT
Ate in the bar with two friends a couple weeks ago, and it was very good. We shared three tapas (stuffed piquillo peppers, baked goats cheese in fresh tomatoes and basil sauce, and beef carpaccio) and then split a large Classic paella. Everything was very good - in particular I'd highly recommend the peppers and goat cheese tapas. My one complaint was that there was no soccarat in the paella. It was still delicious, but missing the best part!
FYI - we are going back again tomorrow (Saturday) and this time bringing the wives with us. I'll post a report.
We went last night (Tuesday) it was very quiet. We sat at the bar and had a great bottle of Albarino, our bartender (Estelle I think) was very nice an answered our questions. We had the calamari ala plancha, anchovies, broccoli rabe and spanish sausage in red wine...all very good. The best though was the creme brule, we asked for it to be served warm and were happily indulged, it was the highlight of the evening. We highly recommend asking for it this way, although I'm not sure that the chef will be pleased about it! Delicious!
We are heading on Sat night for our first visit and will def report back. Based on reviews and the online menu, we are very excited about the food!
(Though I'm not looking forward to the wine prices being 3X RETAIL. What ever happened to wine being 2X WHOLESALE in restaurants?????)
We finally made it to Taberna last night (Sat).
We intentionally arrived earlier than our 7:30 reservations so we could sit at the bar and have a drink first. We had a glass of Albarino and Verdeho which were both nice and served at an excellent temperature (ie: only lightly chilled and not ice cold). However, I had a feeling that my luck with red wine at dinner would not be as good as the red bottles were racked around the bar which was probably approaching 90 degrees on the night we went. Speaking of heat, their patio doors were open and I understand they probably don't want to run AC that just goes out the door, but tonight wasn’t the night to skimp: it was 88 degrees outside with 90% humidity. With a handful of tables just outside the open doors leading out of the bar, this would invariably make a real nice setting on a cooler night.
When we were ready to be seated we passed through the 1st section of the restaurant which was completely empty and proceeded to another room in the front of the building on Madison Ave. This room did have a few tables filled when we sat - - and a few more were filled after 8pm - - but it was relatively quiet for a Sat night which was a bit disappointing; I was expecting a bit more activity for prime time on Sat night.
Note: AC was running in this room but it was also too warm to be comfortable; I even heard other diners comment to themselves about the temperature.
For the food we started with baked goat cheese in a fresh tomato & basil sauce with Italian garlic bread and a Serrano ham and manchego cheese pizza. (I was really leaning towards the grilled calamari but had never had a pizza with Serrano and manchego so I wanted to give it a try.) We followed this with the seafood paella and ricotta gnocchi with black angus “bolognesse”.
The goat cheese dish was fairly simple and just slightly baked so the cheese still retained some form. The sauce and herbs were also very fresh. The garlic bread also had some sort of pesto brushed on; I like each component on it’s own but thought the garlic bread was a little overpowering when matched with the goat cheese.
The pizza was not what I was expecting. It was a traditional thin crust tomato and mozzarella pizza that had thin slices of uncooked Serrano and manchego layered on top. In the end I liked the pizza - - - but I would have preferred if this was a lightly dressed oil/white sauce pie that showcased the Serrano and manchego even more.
My paella dish could have been a big success had it not been way over-salted. The rice and seafood were cooked well, but the salt dominated and detracted from the dish.
I put bolognesse in quotes before because the dish was really a red sauce with small pieces of beef throughout. The beef was very tender and flavorful and the dish was sauced nicely (ie: lightly). The ricotta gnocchi were clearly homemade and cut large enough to withstand the weight of the steak sauce.
For the wine, the list was very large and well thought out with many regional Spanish wines. It was nice to see a list that focused towards the style of food being served rather than just loading up with the usual suspects.
I ending up ordered the 2003 Guelbenzu "Vierlas", a Spanish wine blended with Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha y Graciono. There were 2 major downsides for the wine. First, it was so warm when served that I had to ask for an ice bucket; fortunately they quickly produced one and we were able to enjoy the wine after a 10 min dunk in the ice to bring it down to an appropriate temperature. Second, was the price. I spotted many wines that were 3x and even 4x retail. The wine I choose was $40 on the menu. A quick online search when I got home revealed the RETAIL price to be $11.99. Unfortunately I’ve grown accustomed to $12 bottles being $25 - $30 in Fairfield County, but pricing that exceeds 3x retail is just wrong. (Fortunately the food prices were not out of line like the wine.)
Overall I’d probably give the restaurant a solid B for food and there are things I would like to come back and try. For the wine I’d give it an A for range and selection of the contents, but an F for pricing and red wine temperature.