Friday, June 26, 2009
One of things I love about LA is our weather and how patio dining is something that can be pretty much done all year long and when the dining itself is due to happenstance because of my own forgetfulness, it's a win-win situation. It was a Tuesday night and I was dragging a friend to an Examiner.com cocktail party at the Bonaventure Brewing Company. If you didn't know it already, I am currently an Ethnic Restaurants Examiner for that website. Anyway, we arrive, only to find out that I had my dates mixed up and that the event was actually on Thursday. Go figure. Well, we were already parked and hungry, so instead of calling it a night, we opted for dinner across the street at Ciudad.
Cool weather, sunny skies and being able to watch the tall office buildings glisten from the sun's rays as it set was the perfect reason to sit at the patio and as luck would have it, it was also Tuesday Paella night. Of course, we had to have that as our main entree and it also came with a crab cake appetizer, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, let's talk drinks. My friend went for the White Wine Sangria and I chose the Minty Lime Cooler which was made with fresh mint, lime, splash of soda and touch of sugar. I actually had the Minty Lime Cooler for the first time when I went to the 2009 Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Guild Food Fare last March. It was refreshing and tart then and it was refreshing and tart now.
We decided to order appetizers to share and when we weren't able to come to a decision between two of them, we decided to just go for it and order them both. First, we sampled their duo of Argentine Empanadas. One had a spinach, pine nut, raisin and Manchego filling and came with a salsa verde sauce. The other was a wild mushroom empanada with chipotle sauce. Both empanadas were subtle in flavor and as such, they both paired well with their individual sauces which had more of a kick to them, especially the chipotle sauce.
Our second appetizer was the Watermelon Salad with baby watercress, Oaxacan string cheese, pedro jimenez reduction, macadamia nuts and marash chili. At first glance, the ingredients may seem like they wouldn't play together well, but amazingly they did. There was a nice interplay of flavors that included sweet, juicy, salty, nutty, a little bite from the watercress and a hint of earthiness from the marash chili, which make for an unusually different, but delicious kind of salad.
With the paella also comes a crab cake appetizer, which was quite tasty. With it being deep fried, it wasn't greasy and the batter had a light, but crunchy texture to it. The crab itself may have been mixed with sweet red peppers and some kind of herb. Maybe cilantro? The crab meat had good flavor and was seasoned just right.
Now for the main event, the paella. Just an FYI, at $29, the paella is a fairly good sized portion. So if you're a light eater and/or watching your pennies, split it with your dining parter. Add an extra appetizer to go with the crab cake and the meal can be quite reasonable. Now when it comes to how the paella tasted, it's a solid dish. There's nothing about it that was mind blowing, but you get a nice portion of clams, mussels and sausage and while the rice was saucy, it wasn't mushy. The flavor was okay, but it really needed something else to take it up a notch. Perhaps, more saffron? Pepper? Overall, not bad.
Even with everything we ate up to that point, there was still room for dessert, especially since the Goat Milk Cajeta Flan mesmerized me when I saw it on the dessert menu. I was curious as to whether the goat cheese would cut into the sweetness of the flan. Without a doubt, it did. The goat cheese added just the right amount of pungency to soften; yet, not overwhelm the sweet caramel flavors of the flan.
To end, it was a nice evening. I definitely enjoyed the ambiance of dining outside amongst tall office buildings and both the food and service was good. A couple of things to mention is that Ciudad is currently promoting a 3-Course Steal Prix Menu, which is basically a 3 course meal that costs $24 for lunch and $38 for dinner. Also, as we were leaving, we were presented with a $20 gift card off of our next meal of $50 or more. I'm not sure how long they'll be giving this gift cards away, but it's certainly a nice incentive to return for another meal.
To see pics, go to:
445 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071