Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Triana Tapas and Flamingo

251 Racinto Sur
San Juan, Puerto Rico


In her opinion:
On this particular night in San Juan, proximity to our condo was a major deciding factor in our dinner choices. As we walked across the square filled with music, people and the smells of street food, we knew exactly where we were going...Triana Tapas and Flamingo.

We were greeted by a young inexperienced host who showed to two different tables before we were served. He brought us three glasses of water and disappeared. After about ten minutes of waiting we summoned him over and asked him about the paella and if it would actually take 45 minutes to prepare. He was unsure and thought it would only take 25 minutes. We told him we were ready to order so he sent our waitress over who never introduced herself. But was good enough to tell us that the paella took 45 minutes to prepare...so much for that.

We ordered a 1/2 jug of traditional sangria and checked over the menu again. She brought out a basket with three warm buns and the most delicious house-made garlic butter to nibble while we looked over the menu. She quickly brought out the sangria which was reminiscent of the ones I had had in Spain. Good flavour and it went down easily.

We decided on tapas. I picked two and Edgar picked two and we would share. For my picks, I chose "Fabada Asturiana" and "Camarones al Ajillo".

Fabada Asturiana is Asturian beans and sausage. Very similar to the Portuguse style of beans with linguica. These were extremely tasty, although, I must say that the portion was rather small for the price (but that seemed to be the theme with this place).

I love shrimp and garlic and these definitely did not disappoint. They had large pieces of garlic in the sauce and the shrimp themselves were large and perfectly cooked...my only complaint was that you only got 4 shrimps with an order...definitely not enough to satisfy a shrimp craving!

I also shared "Chorizos al Vino" (Spanish Sausage in Wine) and "Callos Madrilenos" (Tripes in Slightly Spicy Sauce). The sausage in wine was delightful. I really enjoyed this typically Spanish dish. The tripes in sauce was a little stretch for me. As a child, I would watch my mother cook this and I was turned off completely...but I was brave and had some of this dish...it is different from the Portuguese dish as it is cooked with chick peas rather then white beans...but it still had the sausage in it and it was rather delicious!

Overall, it was a very nice dinner...my complaint was the fact that it was expensive for what you actually got but that is life!

In his opinion:
At first glance this place screams tourist trap, with its hostess dressed as a flamenco dancer and the front door adorned with Spanish memorabilia, mostly artifacts from Seville and its Flamenco motif. As you walk in, the very spacious room opens up to a lot more Spanish style sights and trinkets. From fake Spanish balconies to Flamenco outfits and Real Madrid Football scarves, there is a little bit of Spain in every corner.

The appeal here is definitely the daily tapas and the Flamenco shows that run Fridays and Saturdays. On those days it is hard to find an empty seat throughout the day and night. It seems kind of confusing as those two are from very different parts of Spain but it goes well with the "confused", everywhere in Spain motif of the restaurant. 

We ordered half a Sangria pitcher which was pretty traditional but lacking the usual "punch" that you would find in traditional Spanish or Portuguese Sangrias. Nevertheless, it was perfect for a hot evening in San Juan, quenching our thirst quite well. The bread was served to us still warm from baking, with an extremely tasty garlic butter that made for the perfect spread.

For my tapas choices, I decided on "Chorizo al Vino" and "Callos Madrilenos". The "Chorizo" (Spanish sausage) in wine was absolutely delicious with curled up slices of chorizo cooked to perfection and a healthy dose of wine breathing through its pores. This tapas dish was very fulfilling and reminiscing of some of my favourite chorizo dishes.

For my second tapas dish, I ordered Callos Madrilenos, a typical winter dish in Spain which consists of cow tripe cooked in a spicy sauce. I'm a sucker for a good plate of tripe, reminiscing of my younger days in Europe where this dish is a staple in many households. This tripe was well cooked, great consistency but lacked a bit in flavour. Being coked in a "slightly spicy sauce", you would think that the flavours would be abundant but it was quite the opposite. Although well prepared and cooked but lacking in flavour.

The Good: If you are in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico looking for a Flamenco show and some tastes of Spain in the form of tapas this might be the place for you. 
The Bad: Mostly distasteful decorations and staff that wasn't engaged at all makes for a long night, especially if on day without the "show".
The Verdict: There are many other choices that come to mind for a good meal, better tapas even in San Juan than this restaurant. Having said that, it wasn't a bad experience overall but lacked a bit in every aspect of a good experience. Serves the "clueless" tourist very well... 

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