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Amelia Islander

España Restaurant & Tapas

May 20, 2015 02:05PM
España is one of my favorite go-to restaurants, whether I want to treat myself to a midweek tapa or I’m entertaining guests. On a recent evening, my friend, Cliff, came for a visit and we took a tour through España’s menu. With suggestions from our server, Cory, we chose some very special items for our dinner. We began with a glass of Martín Códax Rías Baixas Albariño, a delicate and medium-bodied white with a crisp, dry finish. Cory brought us a basket of España’s homemade bread and their piquant creamy herb dipping sauce laced with extra virgin olive oil. He suggested we try España’s special empanadas, crispy dough filled with goat cheese, tender beef short ribs, corn onion relish, and served with a curry aioli dipping sauce. I also ordered Champinones a la España, char-grilled Portobello mushrooms topped with manchego cheese, and Serrano ham in a light brown sauce. The empanadas were divine. The dough was so crispy and light, and I loved how the goat cheese melted with the beef, a nice contrast to the sweet corn and onion relish. The dipping sauce was great, too, a little spicy with a hint of curry and garlic. The Portobellos are one of my favorite España tapas. They taste like grilled tenderloin, and with the sauce, cheese, and ham, this dish could be a meal in itself. On the lighter side, Cliff and I decided to order the Andalusian Salad, which consists of chopped Romaine hearts, tomatoes, onions, and olives, dressed in vinaigrette and topped with Serrano and manchego. The shining star in this salad is the vinaigrette, which has a bit of sweetness and pairs so well with the saltiness of the ham and cheese. Cory suggested we try España’s Red Snapper Seville, a special that night. This dish has lots of complex flavors and textures, which brought out the distinctive sweet, nutty flavor of the fish. The snapper was dressed with a citrusy sauce, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, artichokes, and saffron. This dish is referred to as “tesoro,” translated as a seafood “treasure,” and a different version of tesoro is offered every night at España. It was served with saffron rice, and a vegetable medley of cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, snow peas, and extra virgin olive oil, with an enormous seared scallop and jumbo shrimp on top. Divine! The snapper can stand up to sauces and seasonings, without its flavor being masked, and the fish was perfectly cooked, as was the scallop and shrimp. Cliff had never tasted Tres Leches Cake, so we ordered that for dessert. This light and fluffy cake is made with homemade sponge cake soaked in three types of milk, topped with creamy icing and drizzled with sea salt caramel glaze. It’s the moistest, sweetest treat you could enjoy after a savory Spanish meal! Owners Roberto and Marina Pestana have over 20 years restaurant experience in both culinary arts and management. Their paellas are prepared in traditional imported paella pans from Spain, and they offer only the freshest fish and shellfish available. They even grow their own herbs and many of their vegetables on site. Between their hot and cold tapas, seafood, steaks, homemade desserts, and sangria, you’ll always find something to love at España. For reservations, call (904) 261-7700 or visit www.españadowntown.com.