Casa de Tapas, Olive Beach, New Delhi
I’m a tried and true Latin lover. The flamenco music! The dark-eyed beauties in their mantillas! Javier Bardem! And, most deliciously, the food, the food, the food. In Spain, around five in the afternoon, everyone trickles into the tabernas for a few tapas, small snacks usually eaten right at the bar with a glass of wine. It’s basically the Spanish version of high tea, only with much better food and alcohol.
Olive Beach decided to launch a tapas night. Every Thursday, they serve up small plates of food with sangria, wine and buckets of beer. I went there as fast as I possibly could.
Most tapas places have food and drink specials—buy a bucket of beer, get two tapas; buy a jug of sangria, get one tapas—and Olive Beach is no different. The system pretty much requires everyone to have a few drinks, since the drinks come with the price of the meal.
Plus, tapas are inherently social. You’re all grabbing off the same plates. You have to argue over what to order, than you all sample the food and argue over what tastes best. Olive went a step further in offering a bread bar and a calamari cooking station. So it doesn’t seem strange at all to be wandering around the restaurant and stopping at other tables.
Tapas at Olive Beach.
But tapas isn’t just an excuse to socialize. It really is all about the food. Some of the dishes we had were absolutely fantastic. When I didn’t see a cheese option on the tapas menu, our waiter happily accommodated us with a smaller version of the cheese plate off the main menu. It was superb. As one friend put it: “You know it’s good if you’re eating even the garnish.” Crispy freshly fried calamari is brought to every table. And the shrimp tapas were wonderful.
Finally, the change from Grecian seaside resort to Sevillian taberna is done seamlessly, with kitsch Spanish posters, waiters in red kerchiefs and wooden tables. They might have gone a bit too far with a huge cut-out of a bull’s head on the bar, but the overall look adds beautifully to the ambiance. The spanish wine options were great (and delicious).
The menu still needs tweaking. The dishes we liked best (the cheese plate and the calamari) were not on the menu; the avocado and eggplant were flat out bad and the sangria was not sweet enough (though that didn’t stop my friends from downing two jugs).
As much fun as the night was, I felt pretty ridiculous spending Rs250 to 450 plus taxes for very small plates with very small portions. If I want to go back, I’ll have to see if Javier Bardem can take me there. Otherwise, I can’t afford those prices.