El Matador – North Vancouver, BC, Canada

http://www.elmatadorsocial.com/

As a resident of the North Shore, I would have never noticed this secluded restaurant if we didn’t happen to be slowly driving past. Eye-catching because of it’s “tapas” component, it has a very chill, relaxed, cozy-but-trendy vibe. Even though I’ve only seen photos of a legitimate Spanish tapas bar, I feel like they did a good job to replicate the kind of ambiance it exerts. It looked promising, so we stopped by for a snack. Even though the food wasn’t exceptional, it was pretty good, some great.

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We came for tapas, so we shared a bunch of them. You are given a paper full of selections, and you simply tick off your order. Being the only customers in the whole restaurant, the service was fairly quick.

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To start, I usually have water. Here, I tried a sparkling pomegranate soda. It was a bit watery – the pomegranate was a bit subtler.

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At the beginning of our meal, we were given complimentary olives to start. As olives have a very strong flavor, I found these tasty – also pretty spicy.

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Here are the tapas we ordered (we even ordered a second time to be able to try some of their other selections) :

Smoked salmon devilled eggs

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The flavor of this was not very strong. I was expecting the salmon’s flavor to be more powerful, but instead it was like a light  touch in the background. The egg whites were plain old egg whites. I think the chef made a good decision to add the crunchy piece on top, otherwise this dish would be too boring in terms of texutre. Adding the green onion gives the best flavor in this dish. I liked it, but overall I expected more from this.

Cheese and chorizo puffs

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Now these were GOOD. I loved the marinara-type sauce paired with the flavor of the meat, and being blanketed inside the pastry puff complimented it so well! Probably my favorite tapas dish from here. This is definitely a must.

Meatballs in sauce

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Besides the fact that they were super saucy, I’m not able to remember much about these.

24 month-aged Serrano jamon

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The salty taste of this ham was excellent. I simply spread the paste (the ingredients I can’t recall) on the crispy toasted bread, and placed a piece of meat on top. The result was a delicious treat, with great flavor. This was very good, but it’s also something that is easy to re-create at home.

Crab tapas

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3 words to describe this crab slaw? Creamy, cold, and refreshing. I find that while they didn’t have as much flavor as I expected, they were still quite good. I can’t place it, but there’s just something special missing from this dish; there’s nothing wrong, but it didn’t make me go WOW.

Rustic bread with tomato and jamon

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The balsamic created a sweetness that was original, and the bacon-tasting ham and tomato went right with it!

Shallot and pepper stuffed mushrooms

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I really enjoyed these cute little mushrooms! They were juicy and tasty, in an unoverpowering way. The shallots and peppers went soo nicely with the melted cheese; all a perfect fit. They were perfectly bite size, and easy to chew.
Overall, this restaurant is very nice, and I would hate to see it go. Our waitress told us that it gets very busy over the weekends, but I’ve never even noticed this place! We were the only ones there, and it felt so empty. I think that they should update their menu every once a month or so, because we’d almost tried everything in one visit, and I’d love to come back.
Overall rating:
6.5/10
See more at:

El Matador on Urbanspoon

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