Tapas: My big problem with small plates

+ -
Bahia Social Club is a new tapas style

Bahia Social Club is a new tapas style Brazilian restaurant, located in Long Beach and serving bacalao fritters with a salsa verde and topped with piquillo peppers. (August 6, 2011) Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Feed Me

The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

Don’t get me wrong; I like tapas. I have fond memories of sidling up to the bar in Spain, ordering a chilled glass of Manzanilla sherry and enjoying successive plates of shrimp in garlic sauce, serrano ham, croquetas de bacalao (salt-cod fritters), pan tomate (toasted bread scraped with ripe tomato), tortilla espagnole (potato-studded omelet). But I am growing increasingly sour on Long Island’s nascent tapas culture.

First of all, many of the local restaurants serving tapas don’t even nod in the direction of Spain. A list of small dishes that includes hummus, duck spring rolls, Wagyu sliders and fried calamari is not a tapas menu. It’s appetizers! Nor does every type of food work in small portions. Do not serve me one beef short rib, one tiny New Zealand lamb chop or a ramekin of penne alla vodka and call it tapas. A pizza is not tapas, nor is a mesclun salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

I harbor a grudging respect for restaurants that at least limit themselves to small plates. What I find completely baffling are restaurants that serve “tapas” along with appetizers, crudi, salads, soups, side dishes and full-sized mains. Such restaurants often claim to do so in the name of offering diners more choices, but when I am confronted with one of these menus I am often tempted to go straight to dessert.

Proper tapas: croquetas de bacalao at Bahia Social Club in Long Beach

Subscribe to our newsletter for restaurant recommendations, recipes and more.


Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: