As promised in my previous post, here’s the download on my Saturday night dinner at Tango, a Spanish tapas restaurant that’s on the border of Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle. I walked in dressed super casually, in jeans and some unimpressive shirt that would provide sufficient ‘expansion room’ through our gastronomic adventures for the day. As I thrust the door open, fully digested after my Cubano sandwich and ice-cream from the afternoon, and ready to order a tapas feast to appease my insatiable appetite, I suddenly felt quite underdressed. This place was pretty trendy, with dim romantic lighting and a brownish rustic hue that made me feel like a boisterous ten-year old in a mature couples’ event (and which also tinged all the photos I took thereafter with a strange sickly hue).
Luckily, the place had mostly emptied out for the night by the time we reached. Even if it hadn’t, all my anxieties about feeling out of place started fading once I laid my hands on the tapas menu. And they totally vanished once I sampled the dense cake-like cornbread that was brought to our table as a complimentary starter. SO much better than the dry, cold, crusty bread that you have to tug and wrestle with in so many restaurants that think they’re doing you a favour when they bring out a basket of last week’s leftover bread.
We went with the high-risk, but potentially high-reward strategy of asking the server to pick out a selection of the best tapas in the house (with the only restriction being no pork, which is pretty unfortunate – though not totally crippling – in most Spanish tapas houses). Being the obsessively fussy attentive eater that I am, I did scan the menu (twice) and mentally tick off the dishes that I’d have ordered if left to my own compulsive designs.
The server did us proud (also admittedly, in a very self-centered way, her choices were super close to my own mental, unspoken order):
…Ensalata con Pato, a phenomenal duck confit salad dressed in a guava and sage vinaigrette,
… Gambas Picantes, grilled prawns with crisp seared skins and smoky chipotle flesh, and served with coconut bread and pumpkin seed-cilantro dipping sauce in the centre. The prawns were grilled and seasoned with such flair that I wouldn’t have missed the bread and sauce if they’d been left off the plate,
…Bistec a la Parilla, a thick cut of beef tenderloin skinny-dipping in an irresistible sauce that was infused with truffle oil and the beefy juices seeping out of the tenderloin. Even more so than the beef, I enjoyed dousing the garnish of crispy onions in the sauce. Someone needs to offer up this killer-fried-onions-with-truffle-sauce combo as a gourmet alternative to soggy nachos and viscous cheese at the movies. I’d definitely be a buyer.
…but the protagonist of the show, the star that my friend had raved about on our way to Tango, and the one for whom we’d patiently waited for, entertaining other savoury tapas as we waited to build up to the much anticipated moment, was the El Diablo, aptly named after the devil. Feasting on this colossal chocolate tower was like having a dream of bittersweet seduction. Of luscious dark chocolate laced with caramel and salty almonds. Of cayenne spice arousing an exquisite, throaty burning sensation that warmed the chocolate coursing down, and of being pushed to the peak of spice-induced chocolate ecstasy. Of spoonfuls of brûléed meringue, that playfully distracted from the sensual chocolate experience with its childish marshmellow stickiness. And with every trembling bite, of sinking deeper into the same dream, and being tugged back toward the frighteningly rich chocolate peak all over again.
If this is what the devil has in store for his victims, then I’m signing up for the voyage to hell.
Tango Restaurant & Lounge
1100 Pike St., Seattle, WA 98101
Phone: +1(206) 583-0382