On this outing we came for tapas, although the restaurant also has full meals such as paellas and other entrees on the menu also.
We started with the Plato de Embutido Variado con Frutas Frescas (Serrano Ham, Prosciutto, and Lomo with Fresh Fruit) which was three different dry-cured meats, accompanied with slices of apple and pineapple and blanched almonds. All three meats were very flavorful with subtle differences. I was somewhat surprised by how chewy the thin slices were, especially when compared with domestic commercial hams.
Next, we had the Tortilla de la Semana (Tortilla of the Week), A traditional Spanish Omelet, which, in this version, contained onion, potato, and more ham. Initially,it came with shredded Manchego cheese on top (which hadn't been part of the description) so we had to send it back due to Georgie's allergy, but the staff was very nice about it and quickly provided a cheeseless replacement.
Then, we had Patatas Bravas, browned potatoes chunks served with a smoky-flavored, piquant, tomato sauce, almost barbeque sauce-like. These were very good and an unusual flavor combination.
Next up were the Croquetas, crisply fried croquettes with bits of chorizo, and manchego, served with the house aioli. We knew ahead of time that these had cheese in them, so I ate all of this dish. They were very good.
After that, came the Vieiras a la Plancha, two delicious grilled sea scallops with a citrus saffron sauce.
The final tapas entry was Costillas Rioja Cortas, which was red wine braised short ribs served with roasted garlic and paprika mashed potatoes. We got a sizeable serving of very flavorful meat--an entree worth at many restaurants, and a generous scoop of the mashed potatoes. There weren't any rib bones in our serving, which didn't matter since the braized meat was literally at the falling-off-the-bone stage.
We accompanied our tapas with glasses of the España traditional Sangria. This was less sweet than many sangrias, and fortified with brandy, which made it noticeably heady. Very good, but drink with caution!
The dessert tray offerings were an eclectic collection of Milwaukee favorites: "New York" cheesecake, tiramisu, crème brûlée, and flourless chocolate cake were all represented. However, we opted for the flan, and for an interesting bread pudding with fruit. The bread pudding was a bit drier than expected--it does not have a sauce as many do--but still very nice. On the other hand, the flan was just marvelous! Smooth, light, creamy, and topped with an exquisite caramel.
Everything we had was delicious and well prepared. The restaurant has a nice ambiance, and the service was friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive.
España now has a lunch menu, and has live entertainment Tuesdays and Saturdays (Spanish guitar) and Thursdays and Sundays (flamenco dancing). We will be going back for paella and flamenco sometime soon.
España Tapas House is located downtown at 800 N. Plankinton Avenue (Plankinton and Wells). http://www.espanamilwaukee.com
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