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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tapas Garden Restaurant and Wine Bar, Indian Rocks Beach, FL

Underdog and I serendipitously stumbled upon this gem when we found that the beach restaurant where we intended to have dinner had waiting patrons overflowing into the parking lot.  UD is many things, but a patient "waiter" is not one of them (<----Gross Understatement).  So, we decided to take a drive up the beach and check out some other options.  Tapas Garden is housed in the restaurant that used to be La Cachette de la Plage (which I am sad to see is no longer on the beach, but happy to report is still thriving in its new Clearwater home).  I noticed several months ago that there had been a change and thought it looked interesting at the time, but forgot about it.  There were quite a few cars in the small parking lot, but we could tell from the road that it was a smaller, more civilized crowd than most of the other restaurants we'd passed by (looked like more locals/fewer kids) which was well under control with outdoor tables available, so we decided to take the plunge. 

It was warm, so we intended to dine indoors...but when I saw the shaded dining area in the beautiful side garden (which was surrounded by mature trees, hanging plants and baskets of fresh herbs, lattice work adorned with twinkling lights, and faux gas light lamps) and heard the soft tango music which filled the air courtesy of a live accordian player, I couldn't resist.  There was also an outdoor A/C blowing cool air throughout the garden, which made it a no-brainer.  It was SO tranquil, romantic and relaxing.

We took our seats, and ordered a couple of glasses of wine from the small but diverse wine list.  Our beautiful and charming server, Leslie, took excellent care of us throughout the 2-hour duration of our meal.

First out was some wonderful, fresh rosemary bread which was served with herbed olive oil and some really fresh-tasting homemade hummas.
















The first two tapas we ordered were the Duck and Chicken Liver Pate (which was some of the best pate I've had outside of France and was garnished with more fresh bread, chickpeas, capers and cornichons)....
...and Chef Randy Mussels, which were tender and perfect, served in a roasted garlic tomato sauce.
Next, we opted for the Crispy Duck Leg Topped with Orange Wine Sauce (my choice).  I love duck, and this dish was uber delish!  A boneless leg, it truly was crispy on the outside without being dry on the inside.  The meat was moist, plentiful, and succulent...and the Orange Wine Sauce was incredible (somewhat reminiscent of Grand Marnier).  It was love at first bite. 
My better half selected the Filitito for the second round (a small Filet Mignon topped with Portabella Mushrooms and Maytag Bleu Butter).  This dish was wonderful as well, and was the Y-Chrome's favorite of the evening.
Yes, we were beginning to get full...but the tapas were too good to stop ordering, so we soldiered on.  For round three, I couldn't pass up Lobster Escargot...tender lobster morsels (each perched atop a small portabella mushroom piece) served in an escargot dish with garlic herb butter.  I have nothing to say about this but...*THUD*.  It was SO good!
The Mister, having insane delusions of actually skipping dessert, thought we'd finish up with a cheese course and ordered the Baked Brie in Puff Pastry (which was served with Raspberry Sauce, Candied Pecans, and Fresh Blueberries).  Delightful...just like everything else.


We were REALLY full after all of this, but then Satan (aka Leslie) came back to tempt us with word of a special Banana Cream Pie (which was not on the menu) that everyone had been raving about...so of course we immediately made the decision that we could start a diet on Monday (what else are Mondays good for, after all?) and had her bring us a slab.  This was basically sex on a plate...and very creative, since it was crustless (sliced bananas actually served as the bottom of the pie, which were topped with thick, creamy banana custard studded with tiny white chocolate tidbits, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce).  Manna of the Gods!
This was a VERY memorable meal, and the prices were good considering the quality of the food.  All of this, plus four glasses of wine for me (yes, I'm a wino :-p) and three for my husband, set us back $120.  We also really loved the relaxing ambience and unrushed dining experience.  We can't wait to go back. 

We haz a new "home away from home".  

Tapas Garden on Urbanspoon


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