Tapeo – Villeray

My friends and I wanted to get together and we found Tapeo and decided it was worth a try. Tapeo is a spanish tapas place that had opened for about half a year. It had gotten extremely excellent reviews on Urbanspoon. We barely got a reservation, but managed to grab a last one at 8pm at the bar. As a result, people who normally would sit at the bar to wait for their seats were left standing at the foyer. It was pretty packed at the beginning of our night and I was a little annoyed due to the fact that the guy standing behind me would elbow me every 2 minutes. I told the hostess about it because I didn’t feel like confronting 5 huge guys, and she was an absolutely sweetheart about it.

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Soon everyone who was waiting behind me got seated which was a great relief. So we started off the night just chatting and then deciding quite lightheartedly on a couple dishes we wanted to try.

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I ended up starting the night with the Rosé Sangria. It was a little stronger in alcohol taste as I would have liked. It wasn’t really very sweet nor sour but a touch of bitterness. It was good nonetheless. We were also served some salmon tartare amuse bouche, which were mixed in with basil. This had such an interesting, refreshing taste we considered ordering it as a dish.

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We started off with the Grilled Octopus dish. This was served with roasted potatoes and herbs, topped with tomato sauce. I really thought this was a good dish to start off with. The octopus chunks were of a good size, not like those tiny pathetic tentacles you often get at restaurants. The texture had a crunch when you initially bite into it and was chewy to the extent that it required a few more chews, but definitely didn’t become tough. There was a slight smokiness to the octopus since it was grilled which isn’t a flavour I particularly enjoy, but it worked well with all the flavours combined here.

The hostess had also suggested that we order cod fritters with the octopus as they would go very well together. And that it did.

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The consistency of the cod fritters reminded my friend of crabcakes, as it was fried on the outside and had bits of fish on the inside. It was really really delicious and had really kick started our appetite for the night. It was served with a side of tartar sauce, which obviously went very well with it. The crust of the fritters were just crunchy enough, but not so much that it became hard. It was easy to split this in half to eat it with some finesse, and really did go amazingly well with the octopus.

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For a need for some vegetables, we ordered the vine tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, pesto and basil leaves. This was extremely delicious. The tomatoes were of excellent quality and had that amazing tomato flavour I am in love with. The mozzarella added an extra punch with the pesto, providing for a difference in texture. The basil leaves gave an even more fragrant addition to the dish. Although it was a little bit more pricey, I really liked this and wouldn’t be something I’d make often at home (just because of the ingredients).

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I was the most excited about the Paella. When it came, it was jam packed with seafood which is always a bonus. The rice was to a consistency I liked with paella; not TOO mushy but definitely not too hard. The sauce was quite creamy, which isn’t the most traditional. The seafood was quite good, although I did see a large difference in quality between the enormous shrimp and the tiny mussels. But everything still tasted fresh, so I overlooked that. Also with the dish came scallops, squid and chorizo. Of course, it was flavoured with saffron and other herbs, giving a fragrant taste to the rice. I did find this dish to be a little on the expensive side ($40) but it was M.P on the menu.

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Finally we had the Iberian Pork “Secreto” which is a type of pork I’d never tried before. It is supposed to be similar to the “black pork” that some of you may have heard of. The dish was presented as thin slices of pork dressed with a pesto-oil mixture, and garnished with some greens. The pork was grilled and retained a smokey flavour, while the middle of the slices were still pink. Honestly, it tasted like eating a steak in terms of texture and the type of flavour. You can taste that it is pork, but the juicy, meaty taste of eating a piece of steak was there. The meat also contained a good amount of fat which made it taste even better, and at $20, it was definitely a good try.

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The waitress definitely tempted us with the desserts and we couldn’t resist trying the churros, which she raved about. We got it and were so relieved it didn’t come with cinnamon since both me and one of my friends hate it (I know.). The churros were topped with sugar and was served with a decadent chocolate fondue sauce. It was evident that the chocolate sauce came out of a heated bowl filled with pieces of chocolate. The churros had a doughy, eggy flavour and texture with the slight crunch outside. The sugar also gave it an interesting crunch where the chocolate sauce gave it an extra oomph of sweetness. Sometimes I ate it without the chocolate sauce. It was an excellent finish to spanish tapas and really showcased the talents of the chefs using such traditional and “simple” dishes.

They don’t really pay attention to the presentation of the dishes, but in my opinion, tapas don’t need good presentation. As long as the food is amazing.

My friends also ordered some Mojitos which were amazing. Had just the right balance of sourness, sweetness and herb-iness. Tapeo is apparently quite well known for their mojitos.

Another great thing about this restaurant is the fact that I left without smelling like anything. No smokiness, no food smells. Their ventilation system is phenomenal!

Needless to say, their service is quite good. At least the waitress I had. I do believe that it may be different if you’re not seated at the bar, since it may be so busy that you would feel a little neglected. But nonetheless I think that all the waitresses and waiters would have a pleasant personality and approach when they do come to tend you.

I highly recommend trying this place if you’re ready to dish out a couple dollars. It’s not cheap, but I had a blast here. The food was absolutely incredible, the ambiance was so engaging and the service excellent. I would advise you to call in early to make a reservation, as Tapeo gets incredibly booked up on the weekend.

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 9.1/10
Atmosphere: modern, bistro
Price: $50

Tapeo on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

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