Ventured out this rainy Thursday evening to Ceviche, the new transplanted from Tampa/St. Petersburg authentic Spanish tapas addition to Orlando. Located on the precarious in-the-midst of remodeling Church Street in downtown, Ceviche is in the historic Rosie O’Grady’s prime location. Three words to describe this restaurant: I Loved It!
I was a bit hesitant to try this new place that I have read about from the foodies on Chow.com. For a middle of the week meal, I was thinking of something a little more on the light side, but curiosity got the best of me, so my dining companion and I set out on the short trek. I haven’t been to this location for a while, maybe even a year, and while I love the whole revitalization of downtown thing, the parking was definitely a pain in the ass. But it was worth it. I’d go back to Ceviche for the ambiance and décor alone. I felt transformed while taking in the high ceilings, mosaic tables and fine details. Not to mention the highlight of the atmosphere: the tapas bar complete with legs of ham and wreaths of garlic.
Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself because we’re not even at our table yet. I first took in the wine list that, in all honesty, is a fantastic compilation of Spanish and Portuguese wines. We started off with a bottle of Monastrell (2006 Bodegas Hijos De Juan Gil “Wrongo Dongo”). Mark my words, with it’s creamy chocolate undertones, the Monastrell varietal is on the verge of an upward popular trend. (And, as my dinner companion pointed out, how can you go “Wrongo with the Dongo?”)
Being a tapas restaurant, we ordered two dishes each and dove right into our first two choices: Espinacas and Queso de Cabra. The Espinacas (which we both agreed was our first choice of dishes) was out of this world! Sautéed spinach and garlic mixed with honey, strips of roasted red peppers and figs. Enough said, right? I was surprised by the complexity of such a simple dish and the figs really put me over the edge. This is a must have!
The Queso de Cabra was a simple baked Goat cheese and tomato dish lightly seasoned with dried herbs. Don’t get me wrong; it was good, but probably nothing that I would order again. I love Goat cheese, but would’ve liked to have something more to enjoy it with besides the unimaginative bread that was served.
My veggie dinner companion then enjoyed the Portobello Relleno. I don’t sit well with Portobellos, but I couldn’t resist a taste when this came out to the table. The large mushroom was stuffed with wilted spinach and Manchego cheese. It was delicious! But what the menu failed to mention was the fantastic Béchamel sauce that was served on the side. It was quite tasty and unique to have on an all veg dish.
I then thoroughly enjoyed the Filetito (just like it sounds, a petit Filet). Served with authentic Cabrales bleu cheese, I was over the top with this dish. The sautéed onion, bell peppers and baguette slices completed the Filetito that was tasty and very satisfying.
Lastly we shared the Pudin de Pan. (You guys know how I love Bread Pudding!) With raisins, vanilla ice cream and a creamy Brandy sauce, the chunk of hot bread pudding was really in all of it’s glory. I’d order this again in a heartbeat (but of course sharing; the serving size was huge!). At this point we also had some more wine: a 2001 Tempranillo/Mazuelo blend (Faustino V. Reserva) that captivated me with its leathery and licorice undertones.
The staff was not only friendly but also sincere. Our server exuberated friendly enthusiasm and the manager was knowledgeable and passionate about his wine list (he even gave me a copy for my students!) On the way out we peeked into the bar where they featured live music. Again the atmosphere entranced me: a tall cathedral ceiling with beautiful and detailed lighting. I can definitely see myself enjoying a drink there in the future.
All things said, I really hope this place catches on. With the Dessert Lady opening a new location across the street and (hopefully soon) the completion of construction, I can see Ceviche having a promising future that they deserve in their new Orlando location!