Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentines Day - Eating out version

We had two Valentine's Day celebrations when it came to breaking bread. I'll post them separately - the eating out and the eating in version. Eating in version includes my mom and I making Filet Oscar for the men in our lives and ends in quite a success!

The eating out version is as follows...

Monday evening Christian and I dined at La Merenda. I have so many exciting things to say about this place, but I'm going to try to keep it in an orderly fashion (which you know I struggle with!).
First things first. La Merenda. It's on National Ave, just east of 1st street in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood. If you're not looking for it, it's a little hard to find. However, it seems as though plenty of people have no problem locating it! It gets busier and busier each time I've been there. It's Milwaukee's only TRUE international tapas restaurant. (tapas, for the unknowing, are small plates meant to be shared). The menu features small plates of amazing delicious food from all over the globe.

My favorite part about La Merenda is how flexible it is. The first time I dined here, it was when I met Christian's Dad & boyfriend Tim for the first time. The 4 of us each picked 2 of our favorite menu items and we had the perfect amount of food for the table. The second time was for my birthday. There were 6 of us and we did the same thing. Everyone pick 2-3 favorites (this time we ordered 2 of each) and we'll share around. For Valentine's day it was just Christian and I and we each picked 3 favorites and it was perfect. No matter if you're dining with a small or large group - you can get just the perfect amount of food. And for the indecisive (me!) it's perfect because you get to try a ton off of the menu! Without going into too much detail (because at the end of the day I am NOT a professional food critic) here's what we tried this last time:
  • La Merenda Salad (arugula with strawberries, pine nuts, Gorgonzola & balsamic vinaigrette)
  • Bread & butter (I usually skip the bread and butter as I'm trying to save room for the good stuff - but whatever they do to their butter is MAGICAL. I had 3 slices just so I had a reason to eat butter).
  • Empenadas (stuffed with pork & apple)
  • Lumpia Shanghai (cigar thin egg rolls)
  • Tostones (fried plantains w/ probably my favorite guacamole EVER).
  • Savory Crepes (filled w/ chicken & mushrooms in a rosemary cream sauce)
  • Mushroom Ravioli (in a rosemary cream sauce w/ white truffle oil - this was a special and was the favorite of both of us...Oh it was SO amazing...I would've ordered 8 of these & called it a day!)
  • Porcini crusted Ribeye (another special - served w/ mashed potatoes and a white truffle butter)
  • Almond Joy Creme Brulee (so rich, but so good)
  • Chocolate Banana Egg rolls (served w/ ice cream - that paired DELICIOUSLY with the creme brulee).
Our meal was so satisfying and scrumptious. We were just at that "oh boy, I'm full but it was so good it was worth it" point without being uncomfortably stuffed.

And the most wonderful surprise, we found out Monday nights are 1/2 price bottles of wine - on their ENTIRE wine list. And let me tell you - they've got quite the list! We were even able to find a red we could agree on, the Macquis Lien Super Chilean - both loved it! (Now I just need to find where I can buy it!)

If I may just go on for a bit more about this place (I swear - they're not paying me). Two other fantastic things that make this restaurant unique and appealing to me. First, the decor is adorable. The mismatched chairs, unique vases and collection of random artwork on the brightly colored orange walls make you feel as though you're dining with family in Columbia. It's quaint and it works.

Finally, the owner makes his presence known. He'll occasionally deliver your food himself. He'll stop by to see how you're enjoying that bottle of wine you've selected. He'll recommend something else you might like based on your selections of food and wine. He stops from table to table to see why you're there, what made you come, how you heard of the place, suggestions you might have. It's a rarity in dining and it makes you feel his sense of pride in his establishment. He truly cares what you have to say, and quite frankly, it brings people back!

One other small side note, I would recommend making reservations - as we've tried to dine a couple times and there's generally a lengthy wait on weekends!

La Merenda International Tapas Bar125 E. National AveMilwaukee, WI 53204414-389-0125

No comments:

Post a Comment