Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dali: Always Consistent

There are some restaurants that are consistently excellent, where you know that you will always have a delicious meal. You have no qualms about recommending the restaurant to others as you know that they will enjoy it. You look forward to dining there, knowing it will please. Dali is one such restaurant.

We dined there last night with another couple who had never been there before. We all had a fabulous dining experience.

I have discussed Dali here a few times before. You can see those reviews here and here. They are consistently good and this time was no exception.

We arrived early, prior to their 5:30pm opening. On Saturdays, they do not take reservations unless you have a party of 6 or more. And then, they only take reservations until 6pm. Thus, unless you want to wait for a table, you go early and wait for their opening. Usually there is a line outside by the time the doors open. Last evening though there were only a few people waiting outside. Though the restaurant would fill up quickly soon after.

The ambience of the restaurant is one of its strengths. You feel as if you have been transported to another world. It is a friendly place, a place of enjoyment. It can also be a very romantic spot, especially a couple of tables near the windows. You can ask specifically to be seated there and those tables should not disappoint. The staff are all welcoming and personable, from the hostesses at the front to the waiters who will serve you.

We specifically asked to be seated in Gateau's section. He is our favorite waiter and he has been our server many times. We know that the service will be impeccable and that he will ensure we have a good time. He is very personable and a fine man. I should mention that the rest of their staff is also very good. We have never had any service issues here.

Prior to our dinner, we ordered a few drinks. I began with a glass of Manzanilla sherry, La Gitana. This is a dry white wine, with a nutty and salty taste, almost a taste of the sea. A nice start prior to the meal. The others ordered the Mojito Especial. This is not your usual mojito but their own special concoction. It is made from Gran Torres Orange, Anisette, Mint Liqueur, Lemon Juice, and Mint leaves, Everyone very much enjoyed them. I tasted the Moijto and thought it was excellent too.

With the drinks, we also got a basket of sliced bread. The bread was very fresh and has a nice thick consistency. It is great for dipping into sauces or spreading something on it. They give you a chickpea and mushroom spread which many people really enjoy. They will always bring you more bread or chickpea spread if you run out.

We then ordered our first round of Tapas. We were not in any rush so we chose to order in stages. We began with the Plato Mixto, a selection of Spanish cheeses, Serrano ham, olives and peppers. This dish certainly went well with my sherry. You also get plenty of food on this dish, plenty for four people. We also had the Ensalada Mixta, a large fresh salad. I was hesitant when the Pulpo a la Vinagreta arrive, the Octopus in a vinegarette. I generally don't eat Octopus but I did try it. And it actually was very good. It was tender, not rubbery at all, and the vinegarette added a nice flavor. This is a Tapas I would order again. We also ordered the Gambas al Ajillo, shrimp in sizzling oil and garlic. This has long been one of my favorite Tapas. The 0il and garlic go well atop their bread. Our final Tapas for this stage was one of their specials, Tigres, which were Mussels stuffed with Serrano Ham, Shrimp & Béchamel sauce. These were superb! Three large mussels covered by a mound of the stuffing ingredients. Very tasty.

While enjoying these dishes, we ordered a pitcher of Sangria. Their Sangria is still my favorite of any I have had in any other restaurant. It is certainly popular as you will see it on almost every table at the restaurant. It has just the right combination of flavors and the alcohol taste is very subdued.

Onto the next stage of culinary delights. We tried some more of their special Tapas. The Bola de Patatas is a Potato & Pork Croquette served with an Onion-Paprika Sauce. This was a large Croquette with a nice crisp fried exterior and plenty of meat and potato inside. The Brocheta Vacuna consisted of two Grilled Marinated Beef Skewers. This skewers were in some type of wine sauce. Maybe a Rioja wine. The beef was very tender and the sauce was exceptional. I could have eaten a dozen skewers. The Vieiras con Queso de Cabra y Bacon were Broiled Scallops with Goat Cheese & Crispy Bacon. Another superb dish, with a mix of such great flavors. The creamy goat cheese with the smoky bacon and the tender scallops.

From the regular menu, we ordered the Patatas Bravas, the Fried Potatoes with a Piquant Tomato Sauce and drizzled with Alioli. Nice crisp potatoes with a spicy sauce. We also ordered one of the meals, the Valenciana Paella. This is a Spanish rice dish with meat, poultry and seafood. This dish was loaded with food, from mussels and squid to chicken and sausage. Great spices, perfectly cooked rice. Just a great melange of tastes. It certainly pleased everyone at our table.

A couple of us still had some room left so we ordered two more Tapas. We had the Codorniz de Castilla, Broiled Herb and Garlic Quail stuffed with Bacon. A delectable little bird with plenty of smoky bacon. We also had the Vieiras al Azafrán, Scallops in a Saffron Cream. This is another of my favorites. The sauce is superb, great for dipping your bread.

The couple with us very much enjoyed the food. They had enjoyed every dish and had no complaints at all. But we still were not quite done. Dessert still remained!

We ordered the Tarta de Santiago, a Flourless Almond Cake with Coffee Cream Sauce. That was delicious, with a great consistency and nice taste. We also ordered the Fresones, three huge Strawberries wrapped in Sherry Batter and served with Crema Catalana & Chocolate Ice Cream. This was a special dessert and is excellent. The strawberries are sweet and the thin batter is delicious. A decadent pleasure.

We spent over three hours there, savoring a leisurely dinner. We were not rushed at all. Great food, great service, great company. All the ingredients for a superb dining experience. I cannot recommend Dali enough. It is consistently excellent. It has all the earmarks of passion that I seek. If you have been there before, then return. If you have never been there before, then give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

415 Washington St.
Somerville, MA
Phone: 617-661-3254

Dalí in Somerville

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