27 Blood Alley
Dinner & drinks for two: $60
Signature Dish: Brisket Meatballs ($6)
Signature Drink: St. Urbans-Hof Riesling
Tapas has become a much-used and often-abused nomenclature for smallish, expensive plates of elaborately cooked food. Call them share plates, small plates, what have you, the result is usually the same—the need for a large falafel at the end of the meal.
Enter Judas Goat Taberna, brainchild of Sean Heather, of Irish Heather and Salt Tasting Room fame. The plates are small — most are the size of my daughter’s tea set — but the prices are small as well (think less than $40 per person on average for a lot of dishes), and the food is filling, comforting and fabulous.
The three of us tried almost everything on the menu, and that and a bottle of St. Urbans-Hof Riesling brought the bill to less than $130 and left us feeling like Christmas turkeys. The menu floats around Spain, Italy and France, with pit stops in Portugal and Greece.
White anchovy and salsa verde bruschetta ($2.25) was an absolute wonder of flavour combinations and caused a wee fight for the last piece. Pressed vegetables in fresh gazpacho ($7) was both lovely to look at, as well as eat. A large quartet of brisket meatballs in hearty tomato sauce ($6) was rich and moist, while slow-cooked sablefish topped with Israeli cous cous, lemon and smoked paprika ($9) was a thin, flaky fillet that melted at the touch of the fork. Even the desserts, like the dark, boozy Spanish coffee truffles ($5) and the dark chocolate tart with chili jam ($7) were small, palate-sating wonders.
It’s a menu that already draws food industry types on their nights out, and no doubt the rest of the city will follow in short order. The only thing missing is the space to seat everyone — but for food this good, I don’t mind waiting.