After a long short day of skiing, my friend Adam and I decided to meet up with one of his friends on the way home to LA, so we stopped in Claremont. Down town Claremont is very nice, clean, and quaint, but just down this hallway, before the bathrooms, and next to the confessional, there is a set of doors that leads you into a small and very intimate space. She was right when she said that this place was a local hangout and not too many “outsiders” knew about it. I tend not to disagree with her on this one.
When you walk into this one room space, all you notice is tables, tables, tables; pushed into every corner of the restaurant with just enough room for one person to walk through or get in and out of your seat without hitting the person behind you. I tend to like places like this, where they can concentrate on each customer without being overloaded. Needless to say, when we were hungry, our server was right there.
Coming from an Italian family with many italian friends, I have never been a fan of sangria, but I have learned to get into it since I have moved out here, and I would highly recommend their red sangria.
Overall, this place had many tasty things on the menu, such as the bacon wrapped dates.
Cmon, we all know everything is better wrapped in bacon!
the chicken empanadas…
And even shrimp in a tasty aioli..
But I do want to mention a couple of dishes that I could have done without and one that was slightly surprising.
Squid in its own ink:
I have had squid before in many different ways, fried, bbq’d, etc, but whenI saw this on the menu, I had to try it. Its like cooking a steak in milk, kinda seems a little, hmmm.. i have to remember the word my friend used for it, but anyway. This was more of a mental block for my dinner companions, they just couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept. If you didn’t know any better, by first look, its in this fairly thin black liquid, which in all honesty didnt look very appetizing, but for this show, I had to try at least once. And it was nothing like it looked. Although the squid doesn’t really soak up a lot of flavor, the sauce brings a garlic and onion flavor. The ink was surprisingly neutral flavor.
I can’t remember exactly what this is called, but you would know it if you read it on the menu. I can always appreciate a new dish, but this was not impressive. I love peaches, and I love blue cheese, but they should really never come together. Our server said some people liked it and some didn’t. Here is my impression: At first bite, the peach is very well done, not too sweet, not too tart, and very tender, but then there is a slight aftertaste that is a little off about it. I won’t use my exact phrase to describe it, but these things should not go together. And while my friends were trying to figure out the flavor, as soon as I mentioned it, they agreed. Needless to say, no bueno.
Strawberries on a 4 cheese bed:
This was a dessert selection, and wasn’t on any menu, but it sounded like something we had to try. Again, stop with pairing these fruits and cheeses please! Very well marinated strawberries in a little strawberry reduction over these boats of cheese, looked pretty, but again, I don’t know what people think sometimes. They worked well separately, but eating the whole thing was not a good idea. The cheese tasted like something I could have got out of a can. I was not impressed with this dish. Although… get a order of creme brûlée and have that with the strawberries.. that worked out very well!
All in all, I would go back to this place. Its not a quiet place by any stretch of the imagination, but I will warn you that the clientele has a keen sense to go silent as soon as you are in the middle of a juicy story or punchline. As happened to me a couple times. Great place for something quick to start your night.
We had 6 main tapas dishes, a liter of sangria, which easily gave three of us 2 full glasses, 2 desserts, and a couple cups of coffee, the total bill came out to about $75. I would highly recommend this type of place as a starter and could probably get out for around $20-$25 for 2 with a generous selection of meals. Not a bad way to start the night!