House of Skip

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Despaña Princeton

Again in the mood for something close by and easy, my dining companion and I once more ventured into Princeton. There have been a couple of changes to some local establishments. One that we noticed on another trip, was that this little place on a corner that used to be an Indian restaurant is now a tapas cafe called Despaña. Upon doing some research we found out that it was a BYOB, so a bottle of Spanish red wine in hand we headed to Despaña.

 When we arrived, we found that the first floor was a takeout/deli and that upstairs was the restaurant. They had a super cool second story outdoor patio, but there were no available tables when we arrived, I guess everyone thought it was as cool as we did. Any who, we sat inside which was equally cool.

The menu is designed as small plates meant for sharing. There were so many good things on the menu and so it took us some time to decide. Our waitress was patient with us and gave us plenty of time to look over the menu, in the meantime, we did ask for our wine to be opened and we sipped while we discussed our game plan.

We first ordered some meat, we went with the Iberico ham, which was to be served sliced thin. Then we decided on three tapas Chorizo Con Castañas (chorizo with chestnuts) which were served in mini casserole dish (so cute!), calamari, which came lightly fried and a tomato stuffed with manchego cheese. Next up we ordered a paella to share, we went with the paella mixto which had chorizo, sea bass, shrimp, and chicken. The paella are meant to share and come in two sizes, small and large, we got the small and it was plenty for the two of us when combined with the meat and two tapas we had.

So, how was it? This meal was AMAZING. The tapas came out first and wow- the presentation of the chorizo with chestnuts was so fun, with them all bundled in the casserole dish! The chorizo was spicy and the chestnuts added a unique contrast in both flavor and texture, we loved this dish.
Chorizo with Chestnuts

The calamari had come out at the same time as the chorizo, it was good, but nothing special, similar to calamari appetizers you get any where else. We did enjoy them, as they are one of our favorites. 
Stuffed Tomato
The third dish arrived and it was like a dream (more so for me than my companion) the stuffed tomato was a great presentation, the beautiful red tomato in the middle of the plate, over flowing with cheese, surrounded by a salad of mixed greens and topped with a thinly sliced piece of toasted bread. As we were finishing up our other tapas, our Iberico Ham arrived. It was beautiful. I would hang a photo of it in my home, it was glossy and we couldn't wait to dive in. The ham was sliced paper thin and melted in your mouth. It had great flavor, smokey yet soft, perfectly salty.
Iberico Ham
The last thing to arrive was our paella. It came to the table in lovely little skillet pan and then we were given two smaller versions of the same skillet to use as plates. This made it so fun! The paella was perfect. The rice was soft and stuck together, but crispy on the bottom where it crusted up on the pan. The chicken and chorizo were both tasty and added texture and spice to the dish. The shrimp and sea bass were delicate and sweet for a nice contrast. As I said earlier the small was really a great portion size for us to share after having devoured all three of those tapas plus the ham. If you were going to go lighter on the tapas, you could get a large paella and share it among two or more people.

Paella Mixto
For your entertainment, I will tell you that my dining companion, while we were trying to decide what to order, asked "would it be too much chorizo" (if we got both the Chorizo and Chestnuts and the paella with chorizo) and I replied, "there is no such thing as too much chorizo". And I was right.

So whether you want to bring your favorite bottle of wine and taste the menu like we did by ordering a few tapas or you just want to get your hands on some good pork products in the deli, stop by Despaña.

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