Casa De Tapas

Friday - - REVIEWS -

T here are a cou­ple of things I al­ways try to do when din­ing out. Aside from keep­ing my lap free from food and at­tempt­ing not to mis­take the kitchen door for the ladies’ one, I never or­der dishes I could recre­ate at home. (And the fact that my din­ner party reper­toire is kept limited is def­i­nitely not cheat­ing). But there’s some­thing else, too. I can’t stand it when the per­son I am with or­ders the same dish as me, es­pe­cially in a new restau­rant. “What a waste, we can’t share,” I protest, which has both made and bro­ken friend­ships.

No sur­prise then that I’m drawn to cui­sine that en­cour­ages shar­ing and de­mands a pantry the size of Nigella’s to cre­ate. So I was de­lighted to dis­cover a new tapas restau­rant in Dubai. And an au­then­tic one at that, no fu­sions or twists. Just tasty tra­di­tional food made for shar­ing. Hur­ray!

Casa De Tapas, the new­est ad­di­tion to the Dubai Creek Yacht Club, is mod­elled on rus­tic Madrid (see page 74 for more on this beau­ti­ful city).

The menu fea­tures clas­sic Span­ish dishes from An­dalu­sia in the south to Gali­cia in the north of the coun­try – all cre­ated by chefs born and bred in Spain.

I could smell the Span­ish sausages as we waited be­hind some ladies to be seated. “But I’ve heard it will rain in an hour, will it?” one of the women asked, some­how mis­tak­ing the friendly front-of-house staff mem­ber for a me­te­o­rol­o­gist. “Well our restau­rant is com­pletely in­side,” he replied calmly. “But we have beau­ti­ful views of the Creek.” The women took their chances and were shown to their seats. With smells of roasted pota­toes, smoked pa­prika and salty seafood waft­ing out from the open kitchen we didn’t need any such en­cour­age­ment to take our seats.

The restau­rant’s fo­cal point is a large in­verted lemon tree, which pours proudly from the ceil­ing on to the main stand-alone bar be­low. The decor is in­spired by tra­di­tional Span­ish bode­gas, so think dark woods, mo­saic tiles and hand-painted ce­ramic plates, but with­out the lay­ers of dust, can­dle wax stains and dis­grun­tled el­derly lo­cals.

As we pe­rused the menu, sip­ping a cool drink, it was clear that lack of va­ri­ety wouldn’t be a prob­lem. An ar­ray of de­li­cious dishes jumped off the page. Gaz­pa­cho An­dalúz – a tra­di­tional An­dalu­sian chilled tomato and veg­etable soup (one for the sum­mer); Bere­je­nas a la Mozarabe – fried egg­plant with date syrup; and Pulpo a Feira – oc­to­pus with crushed pota­toes and smoked pa­prika. Amaz­ing!

“One of each?” our wait­ress coaxed, top­ping up our glasses. She was a bad in­flu­ence al­ready.

“If you’d like more, no prob­lem.” Even­tu­ally we agreed to or­der six tapas dishes to share.

“And for mains?” asked our wait­ress, prac­ti­cally jump­ing on my shoul­der with a pitch fork. We would burst!

“The slow-cooked lamb is in­cred­i­ble,” she added. She pointed us to Paletilla de Cordero de Avila al Horno – a nine-hour slowroasted milk-fed shoul­der of a lamb born and bred in Spain, just like her and the chefs.

Push­ing aside thoughts of the gym ses­sion loom­ing the next day (“Manana! Manana!” I rea­soned), we agreed and read­ied our­selves for the feast to come. And what a feast it was. Melt-in-your-mouth and in­cred­i­ble from start to fin­ish amid a re­laxed, friendly at­mos­phere.

And thanks to our wait­ress, who seemed on a mis­sion to fat­ten us up, we some­how found room for a plate of the warm choco­late and cin­na­mon chur­ros with white choco­late dip. And when it came to those, shar­ing re­ally was not an op­tion!

The menu fea­tures clas­sic dishes from across Spain – all cre­ated by chefs who were born and bred there

Casa de Tapas is at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. To book, call 04 4161 800 or email reser­va­tions@casade­ta­ Open from 6pm to 2am (sun to Thurs) and 12pm to 2am (Fri and sat). On aver­age a meal for two will cost Dh350.

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