I consider tapas synonymous with the beginning of what will become a late Spanish summer night out.
That is, if you are eating quality tapas with a quality crowd.
The latter portion is up to you, but the former is basically guaranteed if you end up dining at Cadaqués. As I reread that, I am wholeheartedly aware of the straight-out-of-an-add promotional tone it gives. They didn’t pay me to shower them with compliments. You have my word.
There is a DJ on popular nights-out, like Fridays. The music is trendy and offers a background beat. It is just loud enough that you know it’s playing , your mood is lifted, and you may want to wiggle a little in your seat, but you can still hear everything your friends are saying.
The drink menu is exquisite. Every cocktail looks, sounds and tastes sophisticated. The Picasso is a refreshing work of art to the eyes and the palate.
Tapas are meant to be shared. That is why a tapas outing requires good company. And by good, I mean open-minded and willing to get one of everything (or at least a variety of menu items). The less dietary restrictions, the better. The menu is a little bit misleading in that the “To Share” section sounds like it would be the tapas section, and the main courses section sounds like its items are meant for each guest to order individually. Both sections are actually tapas. The appetizer section has some items, such as soups, that are understandably meant for one person and other items, such as ceviche and tortillas, that are also share-friendly.
No portions are large enough to be the sole order of an individual. This means that the bill fills up faster than you think. The good news is that your stomach fills up gradually, and overeating is not something to worry about.
Tapas offer an eat-and-be-merry kind of dining style. Dishes are brought out in no particular order, other than the order in which they become ready. Usually one or two are brought out at a time, so patrons can really savor each bite.
The Spanish risotto and tortilla minute are my favorites. The risotto is made with crispy rice that is coated with creamy tetilla cheese, offering a satisfying contrast. Other flavors include shrimp, asparagus, mushrooms, fennel and parsley. The tortilla minute is your classic Spanish omelet, which always contains potatoes and onions. You have the choice of making the omelet less standard, since it can be chorizo, morcilla or asparagus-filled. I recommend the chorizo for a slight smoky flavor.
For dessert, there are five items from which to choose. I advise going with five people, so that you can order every single one. Or, stomach and wallet permitting, do that with whatever number of people are in the group. The molten chocolate cake, while not gushing with lava, is still warm and soft inside. It is best eaten when scraped off in layers and mixed with vanilla ice cream. The apple empanadas are mini and fried packaged apple pies. They are not greasy, and they have a slight crisp. They come with plantain ice cream, which offers a slightly less sweet banana flavor.
Service is not always speedy, and your glass will most likely remain without water until you ask for some. BUT, when there was a little mix up (my friend’s pan con tomate bread slices were brought out without the manchego cheese) the restaurant gave us an unexpected gift. A server came over with a porró, a large glass drinking vessel filled with white wine, and demonstrated the proper way to drink from it. So the benefits far outweigh the little mishaps. And if you are lucky, your waiter will be a hybrid of Johnny Depp and James Franco.
Note: Cadaqués is also open for weekend brunch from noon-4pm. It accepts AmEx and cash only. There is an ATM machine inside in case you forget. Cadaqués is on 188 Grand Street in Brooklyn.