Rambla, Rockwell Review: The New Kid in TownFebruary 26, 2019
- Pamela CortezWords
Everyone is talking about Spanish food. It seems as if, this year, most openings have been inspired by Iberian cuisine, either through a direct homage or via new interesting spins. From the traditional Donosti, with unadulterated versions of Basque classics, the left-field Vask, an ambitious three-restaurant concept, to chef Carlo Miguel’s recently opened Black Olive, the cerveseria, tasca, and cocina have all become ubiquitous of late. Rambla is a wonderful new addition to the scores of Spanish outfits that populate the city. The restaurant serves both the new and old, in a setting that feels upscale and yet casual. It’s a place of contrasts, but of balance as well.
Rambla’s food tells a story.
Rambla is owned by several of the proprietors of Las Flores, another well-known tapas bar. Although I’ve tried hard to like Las Flores in the past, I always found the food there less than stellar. It always fell short. My multiple bad experiences there made me decidedly skeptical about what the kitchen at Rambla could do. Fortunately, none of my negative assumptions were met.
Rambla’s food is inventive without being too wild, and the dishes are much more carefully thought out than at its predecessor. As a whole, the menu is definitely more cohesive. There’s a story in their food.
The Spherical Olives is a rare case of molecular gastronomy done well.
We start out with their Spherical Olives, which the waitress tells us is the chef’s secret recipe. Who are they kidding? This is clearly Adria’s famed dish, a burst of olive flavor, encased in skin thinner than Ellen Adarna’s notorious crop top. It doesn’t matter whether or not the idea is original, this is a damn good olive dish. It’s one of the rare cases where molecular gastronomy is done well.
The Organic Egg Bomb was a Spanish take on a Scotch egg, and an excellent display of cooking skill. Rarely do we get to see a runny yolk perfectly encased in sausage meat and bread crumbs, it’s an underrated technique. The savory flavors, although a bit heavy, did its job well.
The Octopus Carpaccio was a crowd-pleaser.
Elsewhere on the menu, there were other little spots of brilliance. The Octopus Carpaccio was a crowd-pleaser, the kind of food that everyone regrets sharing when forkfuls are dished out. Paper-thin slices of octopus were dressed with punchy citrus and bright herbs, and then finished with a smooth hummus that gave a complete bite both in flavor and texture.
The indulgent Ricotta Gnudis was paired perfectly with earthy mushrooms, and the soft gooey balls met their match in the hazelnut and parmesan crisps. There are riffs on texture and taste across the menu that ensure that your palate is never bored.
The Strawberries and Cream ticks all the boxes but leaves you wanting more.
However, not everything was perfect. The Inside-out Cannelloni was too creamy for its own good, with a white sauce that seemed out of place among the better, more adept dishes. The desserts are insanely simple, and are not the best around. I’ve certainly had better churros in the metro, and the Strawberries and Cream ticks all the boxes but leaves you wanting more. The chocolate lovers dish that everyone else seems to be raving about, I’ve yet to try.
Rambla might soon give its more established competition a run for their money.
Despite some seasoning missteps (I found some dishes a little too salty, while others lacked salt), Rambla serves up some delectable fare. While others seem to use the first few weeks to stumble and fall, Rambla’s opening has been quiet but adroit at meeting expectations. Service was on point during my visit. The food was imaginative, and definitely tasted good. If this place keeps it up, its able kitchen might give the rest of its competition a run for their money soon. I’m personally keeping my fingers crossed.