We came particularly wanting to sample the paella, which takes half an hour to prepare. So, we started off with some of the restaurant’s “small plates,” some of which are classic tapas, and some not. Antigua has what might be called a “Latin fusion” menu, with dishes from a number of different countries.
For starters, we ordered patatas bravas, a Spanish tapas, which are crisply browned cubed potatoes, seasoned with paprika, and served with both a spicy romesco sauce, and topped with a bit of cilantro aioli.
We also had an order of the “Yolanda Empanadas,” (named after the person they learned the recipe from) which are an Argentinian variation on the filled pastries. These had a light flavorful crust, filled with ground beef, seasoned with onions, red bell peppers, manzanilla olives, hardboiled egg whites and raisins, and which came with a chimichurri basil dipping sauce. Both the patatas and the empanadas were very good.
Antigua separates its paellas into Paella Valenciana, which has chicken and pork, and Paella de Mariscos, which has fish, mussels, and shrimp. We elected to go with the Mariscos. One order is assumed to be for two, and the dinner-plate sized pan was more than enough for both of us.
When it came, the paella was as handsomely presented as any I have seen, with shiny black mussel shells and lovely large shrimp arranged over the top of the rice. The rice was a rich orange color rather than saffron yellow. Saffron was definitely present, and I believe that the orange tint was due to paprika in the broth, making up for the fact that chorizo sausage, a common ingredient in paella, is not used.
The seafood was tender and perfectly cooked, but seemed bland to our taste. It appeared that the mussels and shrimp were cooked separately and then added to the dish at the last minute, which means that they will not be overcooked, but also that they don’t pick up flavor from the rice mixture. Taking a little bit of the rice on the fork with the seafood tended to remedy this, I would have liked it better had the mussels and shrimp had an opportunity to pick up some of the blended flavor on their own.
For drinks, I had a glass of the Sangria, which here is red Tempranillo wine, orange and lime juices, and brandy. This was not as strongly fortified with brandy as some I have had, which I consider good thing. I liked it quite a bit and would have gladly had another had I not been driving. Georgie had a glass of the straight Tempranillo, which is a mellow varietal we enjoy.
For dessert, we tried the flan. This was an unusual preparation, being stiffer than most we have had, and having been made in a Bundt pan or similar. We split a very generous serving, which had a nice vanilla-bean flavor accompanied by the traditional caramel sauce.
The service was quick, cheerful, and attentive. The restaurant is a bright and airy place, pleasant on a gloomy December evening. Latin music was nice and not obtrusive, and, although the Packers’ game was on the television, the sound was either off or low enough that it didn’t carry away from the bar.
We would definitely go there again. I’d like to try the Paella Valenciana, and there are a number of other good looking things on the menu, including Mexican and Peruvian inspired dishes, that look worth sampling.
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