Sep 21 2014

First Take: Tasca Brava on S. Glenwood For Slow but Delicious Spanish Cuisine!

Front of Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

Front of Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

 

When you think of Spanish eats in the Triangle, there really aren’t too many choices. Mateo and Taberna Tapas out in Durham immediately come to mind but it’s difficult coming with other alternatives in Raleigh once Red Room closed down. Which is sad given the richness and deliciousness within Spanish cuisine. But did you know that there’s a small Spanish eatery over in S. Glenwood that dishes out very authentic Spanish tapas and more and it’s name is Tasca Brava.  You just may not notice this small restaurant and its discrete signage but that might be a huge mistake!  I hadn’t been here in ages but finally made it back for a return meal that was filled with surprises and savory wonders…

 

Sign inside of Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

Sign inside of Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

 

Tasca Brava has been in the area for a while having moved from Cary to N. Raleigh and then finally ending up on S. Glenwood just some doors down from Mellow Mushroom  off of Peace Street.  The neat, little white, wood-sided building shows of two bay windows up front along with a bright yellow Tasca Brava sign with a bull logo.  Inside you’ll find a cozy corridor with split dining rooms to either side.  Dark woods, rich wall paintings, red and black table cloths give it a Continental feel.  There do seem to be more tables in each dining room but you’re still guaranteed to have a pretty private meal when you’re eating at Tasca Brava.  The layout and feel is similar to Mo’s Diner done Spanish style.

 

Cozy dining room at Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

Cozy dining room at Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

 

We’re greeted by the animated and passionate owner, Juan Samper.  He’s a combination of chef, server and owner, nearly a one-man crew at Tasca Brava and is proud of all his offerings. We grab a seat by the front bay window and order up some bottled water for the table.  The menu is pretty small with some breads and soup to start with, small plates and apps and then some bigger ones.  Juan is a funny and liberal guy with his words, describing his specials with some theatrical flair.  Since we’re here celebrating a birthday and it’s my first visit back in a while we order it up!  A bottle of Rioja, some pao de queijo, a marinated octopus app on special along with a bacon-fish app on special.  We go with a standard paella valenciana for the main opting out of the Negra-squid ink special.

 

Pao de queijio at Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

Pao de queijio at Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

 

Marinated octopus at Tasca Brava, Raleigh- Foodalicious FolliesFish wrapped in bacon at Tasca Brava, Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies
 

We’re first brought the basket of pao de queijo bread and it is WON-derful!  I’ve always known this treat as more a Brazilian food but they are round, small breads with a ton of elastic chew.  Firm salty crust on the outside, soft, chewy inside, they are a must-order.  The octopus reminds me a bit more of a ceviche served with avocado, tomato and onions and served with chips, yummy!  And the fish-wrapped in bacon features salmon and some other meaty filets that are simple but tasty.  Over the course of the meal, Juan stops in and check on us often, also telling us a bit about the history of Tasca Brava and also the challenges of doing a restaurant of this level of quality on S. Glenwood.

 

Paella valenciana at Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

Paella valenciana at Tasca Brava in Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies

 

The paella is a huge beastie full of scented rice, seafood, chicken and mussels, delicious!  It can probably feed 3 people easily and my overall thought is that portion size at Tasca Brava is certainly above average.  You’re eating hearty Spanish food, rather than just small, itty-bitty plates.  We box up a good chunk of the paella and prepare for dessert.  Which has been one of my favorite options here at Tasca Brava.  We get a super-dense crema catalana, a rich brulee which I loved and some fresh sorbet in 4 or 5 flavors to cleanse the palate.

 

 

Crema de catalan at Tasca Brava, Raleigh- Foodalicious FolliesLauryn eyeing up the sorbet at Tasca Brava, Raleigh- Foodalicious Follies
 

As we finished up the meal, my dining-mate was giving Juan advice on re-painting the back bar area and we are ready to finish up the 3 hour meal.  Hugs all-around before we head off into the night is tradition for me at Tasca Brava. Especially when I’ve got a pretty woman at the table with me, Juan is a big ol’ flirt!  And how would I summarize the meal?  We had an excellent dinner full of great flavors in a great setting.  Juan is all about slow food so you hang around, have a conversation and savor the meal, to hell with the clock!  And while Tasca Brava is not cheap, it has a personality that extends from its chef-owner Juan Samper into the food and the overall dining experience.  You may or may not like that but understand that if you’re going to dine here.  And it may be more common in Spain and Italy but not so much in the commercialized environment we live in today in the US.  So cheers and bon appetit, Tasca Brava!  You haven’t changed a bit in the years I’ve visited and you’ve stayed true to your culinary roots.  Now if only we could find more people that appreciated your food and how you serve it…

 

Tasca Brava
607 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27603
919.828.0840
 
Location on Google maps
Tasca Brava on Urbanspoon

Sep 18 2014

Sammiches to Die for at Killer Poboys in New Orleans

Logo for Killer Poboys, New Orleans- Foodalicious Follies

Logo for Killer Poboys, New Orleans- Foodalicious Follies

 

During my first visit to New Orleans I accidentally stumble on Killer Poboy’s during a visit to Erin Rose Pub but it was just too late.  For my second visit, I promised I would not be denied.  Even though I had already had dinner, I figured it was a catered hotel meal which just isn’t right when visiting New Orleans.  So after some beers watching Thursday night football, we hoofed it over to Killer Poboys to grab fourth meal! Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 16 2014

First Take: Monuts Donuts in Downtown Durham Delivers Amazing Sweets and More

Line at Monuts Donuts in Durham, Foodalicious Follies

Line at Monuts Donuts in Durham, Foodalicious Follies

 

While the cupcake craze is slowing down a bit in the Triangle, another delicious pastry seems to be enjoying a renaissance, the lowly donut!  With Rise and Monuts Donuts opening up in Durham, these cakey and yeasty pastries seem to cause a crowd wherever they show up and Monuts Donuts is no different.  Given the popularity of Monuts, its hours are somewhat limited typically closing at either 3pm or 5pm which has caused some angst for this hungry guy!  I showed up once, right after closing, pressed my nose up against the window sadly as the last employee cleaned up the space and avoided all eye contact with me.  But finally a celebration brought me into Durham on a Saturday morning and I had my aha moment.  Wouldn’t donuts just go great with champagne?!  Yep, they will today…

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 14 2014

A Delicious Visit to Blue Oak BBQ, New Orleans

Sign at order window for Blue Oak BBQ, New Orleans- Foodalicious Follies

Sign at order window for Blue Oak BBQ, New Orleans- Foodalicious Follies

 

After all my New Orleans eats, I was in the mood for some que and spotted Blue Oak Barbeque on Yelp.  It looks to be in mid-City New Orleans, a bit aways, but then I realize the Canal Street rail line goes right by so it’s time for a trip!  I grab a car on the streetcar line downtown for a $1.25 and it’s a fun experience.  Crowded with locals, it feels a bit more real than what you usually run into on Bourbon Street.  The street car drops me off a 1/2 block away from the music venue Chickie Wah Wah, and Blue Oak Barbeque serves up the food inside. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 11 2014

A Side-Alley Visit to Sylvain Restaurant in New Orleans

Hidden entrance to Sylvain, New Orleans- Foodalicious Follies

Hidden entrance to Sylvain, New Orleans- Foodalicious Follies

 

Whenever I visit a city I’m usually looking for off the beaten path, locals type restaurants.  They typically deliver a better meal and value in my experience so I think it’s worth the extra effort to seek them out.  For my second visit to New Orleans I ran across Sylvain which wasn’t too far from our hotel on Chartres.  So after our first day at a conference, we headed on over for a dinner and very cool dining experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 10 2014

First Take: Rue Cler, Durham For a French Bistro Feel and Fare

Front of Rue Cler in Durham, Foodalicious Follies

Front of Rue Cler in Durham, Foodalicious Follies

 

Tucked away off of Chapel Hill Street not too far from DPAC is the tried and true, Rue Cler!  A french bistro and restaurant, I had visited Rue Cler years ago on a Taste Carolina food tour and have intermittently come back to visit from time to time.  For some odd reason, French food is usually not on the top of my To Eat list because I’m not a fan of escargot, cold cheese and pate.  But put a steak frites or croque madame in front of me and I’m all in!  Rue Cler does a little bit of everything, working well for brunch, lunch or dinner, let’s find out why! Read the rest of this entry »

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