Baltimore has become a breeding ground for Tapas – Spanish style restaurant such as Pazo, Kali’s Court, Meli, and Mezze to name a few. If you venture away from Harbor East/Fells point you will come across Tapas Teatro, located next to the Charles Theater. Tapas Teatro doesn’t have the notoriety as Pazo or Kali’s but the food definitely delivers without breaking the bank.
The menu at Tapas Teatro seems to be a seasonal, constantly changing compilation of ingredients in season and whatever is on the chef’s mind that month. The menu is broken down into six categories – hot starters, cold starters, cheese & charcuterie, vegetarian mezze, meat mezze, and seafood mezze. There are a lot of options on the menu so be prepared to study the menu before ordering. I finally decided on the serrano ham (a Spanish classic), grilled sardines, and the lamb chops.
Let me just start by saying that Spanish ham is the best-cured pork you can eat. In fact, on a recent travel to Spain, Italian chef Mario Batali mentioned how even Italian ham is not as good as Spanish ham. The ham at Tapas Teatro is a bit similar to prosciutto, but has a more spiced, rosemary aroma to it. When you eat it you notice the rich, lusciousness of the pork and is accentuated by the drizzling of Spanish EVOO. I could have eaten three portions of this alone. My second favorite thing I ate was the grilled sardines, which was a portion of three incredibly fresh 6-inch whole sardines. The char from the open fire gave the fish a smoky salty, which was wonderful. Eating the sardines is a bit of work because you have to fiddle to get the meat away from the small bones but the reward is worth it. The last item I ordered was the grilled lamb chops with a rhubarb barbeque sauce. This dish was good, but was probably my least favorite of the evening. The lamb wasn’t as tender as lamb chops usually are. I also felt that the glossy bbq sauce was very over powering and tasted too much of ketchup. I would likes to see the lamb possibly prepared with sprigs of rosemary and shavings of raw shallots, maybe with a demiglace – now that sounds good. I also had a chance to sample the gazpacho, which was perfectly refreshing on a humid Baltimore night.
The service and attentiveness of the staff was very good. When I dined at Tapas Teatro the restaurant was slammed with theatergoers trying to have a quick bite before their show at the Charles. Despite that, our food came out very quickly and everything was the appropriate temperature. Also, as a part of their ten-year anniversary, Tapas Teatro is offering pitchers of Sangria for $10 for the rest of June.
All in all, I always enjoy my dining experience at Tapas Teatro; the food is authentic and unpretentious. Usually I am not a fan of tapas, but Tapas Teatro seems to have a winning formula.