Sunday, 19 January 2014

Spanish Tapas Local-Style at Espana

1118 Denman Street
V6G 2M8

Tastiness Factor: 9/10

Atmosphere: 4.5/5

Service: 4.5/5

Locavore Approved?  MOST CERTAINLY- I was very impressed with the use of primarily seasonal ingredients on their menu, especially in the winter months when produce is limited.  Mushrooms, pumpkin, leeks, potatoes, brussel sprouts and beets were used throughout the dishes in very creative and tasty ways.  This is a place that is worth revisiting on a regular basis, as the menu is constantly being reworked to incorporate what is local and fresh.  Now that is the mark of a truly great restaurant!

On the second night of Dine-Out Vancouver, Hubby and I were wanting to escape the crowds and were looking for restaurant that was not participating in this city-wide restaurant extravaganza.  With well over 200 restaurants participating this year, this proved to be a bit of a challenge but I finally thought of the perfect solution.

Espana is Spanish tapas restaurant located on Denman St. in Vancouver's downtown.  I had the pleasure of dining there with a few of my work colleagues back in the summer and, after a great meal, had vowed to go back with Hubby.  With Dine-Out going on, we figured this would be the perfect night to check it out since we may be able to avoid the long line-up of customers that understandably flocks flocks to Espana on the weekends.  Lucky for us, we walked right into a lovely table right at the back!

Inside, the space is quite narrow with a bar on one wall and seating on the other wall.  It makes for a cozy and casual atmosphere, perfect for drinking good wine and sharing top-notch food with friends or a significant other.

In keeping with the atmosphere, the service is friendly and down to earth, while still being attentive and polished.  I have had the same server on both visits, and she is wonderful.  She knows the menu inside out and makes great wine suggestions.  After ordering, food comes out of the kitchen very quickly and subsequent dishes follow at a consistent pace.

The drink menu has a variety of options, including cava (spanish bubbly), sherry, cocktails and a nice selection of Spanish wines (I really enjoyed the Botani Moscatel 2011).  The food menu is composed of small plates in true Spanish tapas style.  It is divided into several sections, including bar snacks, toasts, cured meats, salads, vegetables, fish, meat, cheese and dessert.  By selecting a few things from each category to share with your dining companions, you will really get a feel for how talented the chefs here are.  Our server recommended 2-3 dishes/person, and we were satisfied with 6 dishes between the two of us, plus dessert.  If you are pretty hungry and choose lighter dishes, you may need to order more and, after seeing for yourself how good the food is, you will certainly want to!

Here are the dishes that we enjoyed:

Smoked sardines and paprika yogurt, chili and mint toast

Roast pumpkin, goat cheese, walnuts, orange blossom honey toast

Serrano ham (aged 14 months)

Grilled leeks and peppers

Mussels cooked in cider

Pedro ximenez braised beef


We thoroughly enjoyed all of the dishes, but I would have to say that my favourites were the Pumpkin Toast (great texture with the perfect amount of sweetness) and the Leeks and Peppers (the grilled leeks are like nothing I have ever tasted before, and are topped with a perfect Romesco sauce).

I just love Espana.  Its concept of making authentic Spanish tapas using mostly local ingredients is awesome and the fact that their menu is constantly evolving with the changing seasons means that you will want to visit again and again.  I know that I personally cannot wait until my next visit!

Until next time Espana!

Espana Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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