Amy and Joanne write:
My husband Chris loves Middle Eastern food and introduced me to Tapas, via the West Hartford location, years ago. We don’t go often, but whenever we have gone, it has been a very good experience. He’ll get a gyro, I’ll get something off the blackboard specials, and we’ll enjoy the warm, friendly atmosphere. When I found out that Joanne has never been to Tapas, I was surprised. Shortly thereafter, we decided to have an early dinner at the Bloomfield location.
When we arrived, there were no customers in the dining room, so we decided to sit at the bar. A bartender helped us choose from a selection of special drinks and martinis and ended her shift shortly after she served us said drinks. The next bartender set up a chafing dish of “Madd Greek” wings, and served them up, on the house, to the customers at the bar. The sauce was sweet and spicy at the same time and was a nice change from the ubiquitous buffalo sauce. We also received a complimentary bowl of their home made kettle chips. These free treats were a nice surprise and a good start to our visit. We thought we would finish the appetizer portion of our meal with stuffed clams. There were two on the plate, and they were moist, flavorful and full of diced clams that were tender, unlike the rubber-band clams and dry stuffing that all too easy to get in New England restaurant.
Amy wanted to wait to see the dinner specials before ordering, but I knew before we even got there what I wanted to order. I fell in love with Middle Eastern food while living in Boston and don’t have it often—not nearly often enough—these days. Falafel is not common, but it is one of my all time favorite foods so I chose to have the falafel sandwich. The “hand helds” all had a platter option (Greek salad and rice pilaf), but I wasn’t interested in rice pilaf, so I asked for a salad without the rice. It was a matter of time until I feasted on one of my favorite foods.
The salad came and was delicious, as Amy promised--mixed greens, crumbled feta, onion, olives, tomatoes and pepperoncinis with just that right amount of an herby vinaigrette. It was also huge, and could have been a meal on its own, but I stopped myself after a few bites to save room for falafel.
The falafel sandwich came in a huge pita, which I discovered was stuffed mostly with iceburg lettuce and three falafel balls dressed sparingly with tahini. I removed a falafel to savor the moment…and was disappointed. What should have been crisp on the outside and cakey and moist on the inside was burnt on the outside and pasty on the inside. And it had a strangely tangy taste that masked the garlic and chick pea flavor that should have come through. I should have eaten more salad.
Nothing really excited me on the special menu, which was a let-down after waiting for it to appear. I ended up going with the chicken kebob dinner, two grilled skewers of marinated chicken served over rice with toasted pita points and tzatziki (a cucumber-based creamy sauce). Knowing how much I love their salad dressing (in fact, Tapas is famous for it around here), I also ordered a dinner salad. But, between that and the apps, I was close to full. And it was a good thing, too. The kebob platter was average. The chicken was pretty dry, as was the rice. The tzatziki had only a hint of cucumber taste, and the rest of the plate was filled with six (six!) pita points. Who needs that much bread? This was not the Tapas I was used to.
When we alerted the bartender that we had a dininghalfoff.com coupon when we asked for our check, he seemed inconvenienced. And when I questioned being charged 4.00 for a platter—since I didn’t have rice—plus another 1.00 for the salad, he treated me like I was stupid. I did have the platter, he assured me, by having a large salad (which I didn't ask for). He said I got for 5.00 what is on the menu for six. Trouble is the menu didn’t say “No rice? Sub fries or supersize your salad.” It simply said “No rice? Sub fries or a Greek salad for 1.00.”
Needles to say, dinner—like my falafel—ended on a sour note. What started off as fun and tasty ended less than satisfying. It was not the Tapas Amy was used to, and not one either of us would return to.