My tapas quest continues, and although I haven’t found a true slice of Spain north of 14th Street, I have finally found a place that offers food that quells my need for croquetas and patatas bravas.
Cafe Ronda is a long, candlelit restaurant. It is casual but nice enough for a dinner with a loved one or a glass of sherry at the small bar. The menu features dishes like paella and skirt steak, but the main reason to come here is the extensive tapas menu.
Usually ham croquetas are the way to go, but here the ham is stiff and too salty – go for the mushroom croquetas. They are thickly breadcrumbed on the outside and the inside is a buttery mash of potatoes meaty mushrooms, and a hint of garlic. The garlic is echoed in the extremely tasty aioli – an ideal counterpart to these rich bites.
In a word, fabulous. The dough is flaky and thick, but not at all sodden or heavy. It is an excellent vehicle for the soft chicken, braised with peppers, garlic, and spices until it is fragrant and tender to the point of falling apart. The chimichurri served alongside is a game-changer. It is like a Latin American pesto, filled with fruity olive oil, spicy garlic, and fragrant cilantro and parsley. It is tasty on the empanadas, on the bread, on a spoon…
Basically, I’m now obsessed with it.
This is just drunk food masquerading as fancy Spanish cuisine. Chunks of fried potatoes, crispy and salty with creamy insides, are drizzled in that garlicky aioli and served so hot that they will burn the roof of your mouth if you aren’t careful Maybe they are just fries with mayonnaise, but they are delicious fries with mayonnaise. This dish really can’t be beat and is not to be missed.
This plate isn’t cheap but the quality is outstanding. The steak is incredibly tender, served a juicy medium are with a nicely charred exterior. The piquillo peppers served alongside are positively velvety and quite smoky. No question about it, this is high quality beef that is served as tapas but is high enough quality to serve as a full steak. It is a wonderful way to round out a starch heavy meal.
Any time that you see dulce de leche on a Spanish menu, you order it. That’s because ducle de leche is to caramel as Kate Middleton is to Lindsay Lohan – one FAR outshines the other. This dessert does not disappoint – the crepes are perhaps not as crisp and light as they should be, but the dulce de leche is nothing short of perfect. Thick enough to coat the back of your spoon with a deep, buttery taste that is incredibly sweet without being cloying. It’s sweet and creamy, and makes the ice cream seem like light health food.
Cafe Ronda is a great neighborhood spot. Though the staff can be a bit pushy with the drink menu, it’s nothing that takes away from the meal. The prices are very fair, the food is quite good, and they have all the Spanish staples to fulfill your tapas cravings.