Nothing like drinking sangria on a warm night. The only problem with sangria, is that you suck it down like grape juice and then all of a sudden, bam, you should not be drinking anymore sangria.
We went to Azafran for dinner. Spanish tapas in Tribeca. Azafran has the feeling of a neighborhood restaurant. The design is simple. The front room is small with a long bar separating the back room which is a nice size with a large open kitchen in the back corner. You can see the flames shooting out of there regularly throughout the night.
The sangria is delicious. The paprika nuts and olives at the bar are a nice nosh while you wait. The food is ok not great. I remember years ago there was a fantastic small tapas place on the Upper West side that had yummy tapas. I never understood why tapas did not take off then. Obviously it is happening now with other noshing restaurants opening up through out the city such as Alta on West 10th and Mario Batali's restaurant Casa Mono on Grammercy.
We began our meal last night with a plate of chorizo, serrano ham and other meats. The chorizo was especially good which we also ate fried later on in the meal. Next we had fried calamari accompanied with alioli and a red sauce. Neither were very interesting and the alioli was so heavy on the garlic that I found it unedible. I stuck to the calamari with were plentiful, spicy and good. Sizzling shrimp was our next nosh. This was also so heavily laden in garlic that it was not that good. I have never understood the heavy garlic hand. Garlic should be used as an enhancer, at least that is how it is done in Europe. The spices should compliment each other not take out the other. We also ate sauted beef rolled up and stuff with pesto. I found that the beef tasted like it was processed. It would have been much more interesting in a marinated flank steak. One bite of that was enough for me. There was a salad passed around at one point which sort of cleansed the palate. Not very interesting on the dressing but just sort of dry.
The main courses we all split up. We had the chilean sea bass with was good. The fish was moist and light. We also had my favorite, seafood paella. I admit that I have been spoiled by eating paella at AOC. Azafran's paella was ok. The rice was yummy. There was only seafood which I like too. The shrimps were delicious. The calamari was ok but not as delicious. I admit, I was forewarned by our dinner partners, it is not AOC. It wasn't.
For dessert, we ordered some spanish sherry which was incredibly sweet so one sip was enough. We also had a cheese platter. Nothing interesting.
We had a great time. It was probably the sharing of the food, the company and the sangria. The food was ok, not great. Will I go back, not sure, but it is always fun to check out the array of restaurants in NYC. That is one of the great pleasures of living in this city.