Friday, December 9, 2011
Photos: Matador on Greenville Avenue re-opens as tapas bar
With CIA-trained chef.
That chef is Jorge "Judge" Saldivar, brother of Traci, who originally had the idea to have her own bar. But the city of Dallas was not on board, Jorge says.
"The city was trying to get rid of bars," he says. "We were grandfathered in under the original certificate of occupancy. But they were revoking our CO, and it turned into a process. We realized it would be less of a hassle if we just started over as a full-fledged restaurant."
So that's what they did three weeks ago: re-opened as Matador Tapas. Jorge is backed by a small team that includes his brother Steve Garza and Earl Nadal, both of whom have trained at El Centro College's culinary program. The menu has about 25 items, from a cheese plate to salads to chicken paella, with the food available in small or large sizes, priced from $4 to $9. The wine is priced in the same budget-friendly manner, with two-ounce tastes for around $3.50 and full glasses coming in at around $5 to $8. We got two glasses of wine, four small-size tapas, and a large order of churros with chocolate, and the entire bill was $37 (plus tip).
Green beans almondine consisted of haricot verts, not overcooked, tossed with brown butter and generously sprinkled with chopped marcona almonds. Artichoke hearts were quartered and served in a kind of chowder with Manchego cheese and rough slices of bread for dipping. Patatas bravas were cubed fried potatoes, crunchy on the outside, fluffy inside, a heaping bowl for only $4. Stuffed piquillo peppers were filled with spicy cheese.
Desserts include churros with chocolate. "They're like a Spanish doughnut that we serve with a thick chocolate sauce that's almost like a pudding," Jorge says. "It's milk and a whole lot of 70% dark chocolate."
That assessment is a little optimistic -- the "sauce" was more like hot chocolate than pudding -- but the chocolate flavor was deep and dark. The churros were thinner than expected, but they were crunchy and hot, and moist inside.
When you hear Saldivar describe his meat plate, you hear the geeked-out patois of a CIA chef.
"It's two dry-aged chorizos, one spicy and one mild, with jamon Serrano and lomo embuchado, it's pork loin where they remove the fat and dry-cure it for three months so you get a dry-cured prosciutto," he says. "The lomo we use is from the Iberico pig. If it's the right time of year, they've gorged themselves on acorns so you get a sweet, creamy flavor to the meat."
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