Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Tasting Room Wine and Tapas, St. Augustine, FL - September, 2007

This was the best meal we had when we visited St. Augustine...and, really, the best meal we'd had in a long time. Unfortunately, we had already been imbibing before we arrived, and I wasn't in "Food Photog" mode but did get a group shot.

The ambiance is warm and inviting at The Tasting Room, and our server was attentive and knowledgeable  The wine list was excellent, and the markup was reasonable...but the highlight were the tapas....the most wonderful I have ever had, in this country or in Spain. One cool feature is that they offer each tapas dish in both a regular and larger portion, so it is easier for parties larger than two to share a small plate.

We started with a bocodillo of stuffed Spanish olives and roasted Marcona almonds. Then, my husband and I tried the Spanish Onion Soup with crispy Serrano ham and Manchego cheese...let me just tell you, folks, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. Holy Mother, it was foodgasmic! Our group of four also shared the larger plates of Grilled Lobster and Serrano Skewers (yes, they were as amazing as they sound, and came with a side of cheesy corn grits), a plate of Manchego chunks nestled on a bed of olive oil and garnished with balsamic vinegar so old and fine that it had the taste and consistency of jam, some amazing giant scallops wrapped in ham and perched on a serving of herbed cauliflower puree, and Salt Cod Potato Croquettes with an herb-infused aioli for dipping...delish!

We ordered a serving of Tres Leches cake for dessert, which was probably the "low point" of the meal, if we had to say that there was one. The cake was a bit dry...especially for one that was milk-saturated. Not bad, but we've had better.

Overall, I highly recommend The Tasting Room for ambience, service, wine list, and food quality. It was a wonderful experience, and our party of four got out of there fully sated on the above offerings with two bottles of decent wine + 2 large pours of a nice chardonnay by the glass (I was the only white wine drinker in the crowd, and the tasting room offers wines by the glass in both 3 and 6 oz. pours) for about $250. A must-do in St. Augustine!

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