Tapas Valencia | South Loop | Tapas/Spanish | Restaurant
Span-American South Loop tapas restaurant.

Our Review

Some things to keep in mind if you’re considering joining the tapas-starved South Loopers at Tapas Valencia, the sister to Naperville’s Meson Sabika: Service snafus abound, though the staff is eager to please/make amends; the plywood-partitioned warehouse space is so noisy that if you worked here you’d be filing a complaint with OSHA; and the fairly formulaic menu is less Spanish than Span-American, a hybrid offered by practically every tapas bar in town. You can still have a good time--just don’t expect the place to be something it isn’t. I enjoyed the well-made, if too cold, wedge of tortilla española, the timbale of pisto manchego (Spain’s answer to ratatouille), and the fresh artichoke hearts with hard-boiled egg in a creamy, tangy tomato vinaigrette, though the fibrous leaves should have been trimmed off. The best of my hot tapas was pato confitado, a moist confit of duck leg, paired with sauteed apples and mushrooms. Tiny seafood-stuffed baby squid in ink sauce were bland and a bit chewy, while the crunchy bacon-wrapped dates looked like they’d overstayed their time in the oven. The biggest disappointment was a special: tostadas con langosta, soggy toast points smeared with tuna, potato, capers, and chopped tomatoes and topped with flavor-challenged rock lobster that I suspect may have actually been the Alaskan king crab used on the regular menu’s tostadas. As for the paella Valenciana, it didn’t come close to any I’ve had in Spain, though I like that you can order it for one person. The rice, not short grain as it should be, resembled Uncle Ben’s, and there was no socarrat, the traditional crusty bottom. Peas and peppers stood in for traditional broad green beans and favalike beans. And in Valencia, valenciana isn’t a combination of boneless chicken, shrimp, mussels, clams. It typically includes bone-in rabbit, duck, and chicken or snails, though originally field workers made it from anything at hand--including rat. Since I’m griping: the wine markups seem high, and the list needs more by-the-glass options. But tarta de pera, almond-pear pound cake with ice cream and caramel sauce, ended the evening on a sweet note.

Anne Spiselman

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Price: $$$
Payment Type: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

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