Casa De Tapas
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 email@example.com. Open from 6pm to 2am (sun to Thurs) and 12pm to 2am (Fri and sat). On average a meal for two will cost Dh350.