Location: 2518 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 450-3900
Date: September 19, October 2, 2015, and February 21, 2016
Cuisine: Spanish Tapas
Rating: Very tasty
My wife and I are both fans of Spanish food, so we decided to try out Manchego in Venice.
Somehow in 7 years I didn’t even notice it existed, despite it being in an area I frequent.
The frontage is pretty subtle.
The interior is small and cute.
They even manage to make the electrical boxes on their patio into a bit of “decor.
Anyway, we ordered some Spanish wine and a couple tapas off their mostly traditional menu.
Beet salad. avocado, feta cheese, pomegranate. Bright flavors, very tasty.
Beet salad with burrata (a variant on some other night).
Kale salad with pomegranates and cheese.
Boquerones. marinated white anchovies with toast, tomato pulp, Spanish peppers, and avocado. I love the vinegar tang of boquerones, and these didn’t dissappoint. In fact, the traditional peppers, the California nod (avocado) and the tomato, really notched them up too.
Goat cheese and figs tostado. honey and truffle oil. How can you go wrong with cheese, bread, and fig?
Jamon, burrata, toasts.
Spinach croquetas. béchamel. Or fried béchamel?
Paella croquetas. Fried rice.
Croquetas de bacalao. Cod version. Even better, softer and more béchamel.
Jamon wrapped dates. Got to love these salty sweet bundles of joy.
From my cellar, some Spanish red of course. 1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera. 92 points. Very dark red with only a touch of brick rim. This wine is not changing fast. Starts out with gorgeous barnyard nose with dark red fruit (ripe but not overripe), charcoal and spice. Little rustic but complete wine. Over an hour the wine evolved to a nose of earthy notes, forest floor leafy complexity, black fruit with barnyard notes in the background. The palate is quite complex, balanced, very fine tannins are still there though balanced by the fruit intensity. This wine is still improving.
braised lamb empanadas. saffron aioli. The heaviest dish we ordered, these were full of meaty flavor.
Gambas al ajillo. Garlic shrimp. I love this classic dish. This one was nice. Not the best I’ve ever had, and the shrimp, while large, did require some shelling, but still these were great.
Wagyu meatballs. Fenugreek and cream sauce. The sauce was great, like a nice light curry.
Mac & cheese. Good food.
Lamb popsicles, with yogurt and capers. Very tender and tasty.
Brussel sprouts with bacon. The bacon totally made the dish.
Overall, this was a nice little meal. Service was good. We did make the mistaking of asking for 2 minutes at the beginning, which as usual when you do that earned us 10-15 without a service — but after ordering things came at a breakneck pace.
Food was bright, quite Spanish, and very tasty. Manchego has rapidly become a family favorite.