Location: 230 Commerce Valley Drive, Unit 2, Markham, ON L3T 7Y3
Price Range: $$
Surprisingly enough, I actually haven’t tried that many Spanish restaurants at all.. which is quite a shame because they are often uncomplicated and down-to-earth food with a rich flavor profile. When Karen (Stenoodie) told me that there was a new Spanish restaurant called Tapagria opened in Markham, I thought this was a much welcome change to the influx of Chinese restaurants in the area. We went on a Friday night with another friend and although there was a steady stream of customers dining in, the restaurant was never fully packed while we were there.
First off, I couldn’t believe how spacious this restaurant was! There were two kitchens, one I assume was for cured meats/cold tapas and the other one was for hot food. The decor and ambiance inside was quite nice, high ceiling, open space and a glass wall of cured meats hanging at the back? I’m sold. I must mention, the price point of this restaurant is expensive compare to Markham’s standard, but not at downtown Toronto at all. These dishes were tapas so the price will add up, thus do check the menu prior to going because this ain’t going to be a cheap meal.
While waiting for another friend, I decided to order the Apparent Sour since in term of taste, it was the closest drink to a Whisky Sour. By now you guys can probably tell, I love any drinks that have a nice balance of lime, sugar and alcohol. The drink had just enough lime juice to make a counterpoint to the St.Germain, and hint of sweetness from the Aperol to take the edge off the lime.
I freak out everytime I see truffle oil on the menu. It is so pungent that if the chef is not careful with it, the oil would overpower everything on the plate. With that said, I liked how they held back on the oil and the pate was smooth and creamy, almost silky to the tongue.
The anchovies were lightly battered, deliciously seasoned and topped with a house made sauce. Some people might think this is a tad bit salty, but I liked it that way and this would be perfect with a nice cold glass of beer.
Surprisingly enough the croquetas were not salty at all! It was a tad too dry for me and I didn’t taste that distinguish salty, fishy flavor of cod. I can’t remember what was the sauce underneath but it added a nice kick of heat to the croquetas.
We were all looking forward to the bone marrow but was extremely disappointed. Though the bone marrow at Black Hoof is a bit more expensive, it was way much more substantial as the one at Tapagria barely had any “meat” in it. I ended up scraping some of the sauce and herbs onto my bread and the flavor was pretty good! Very buttery and oily, in a good way.
Other than Halibut and Black Cod, Hamachi (Yellow Tail) is another favorite fish of mine and I knew I have to order it! Though I appreciated how they kept the fish pure and simple with a few ingredients, the cut of the fish was quite thick and it didn’t feel fresh at all. With that said, I liked that there was just a right amount of red chilies for heat and a few julienne slices of granny apple smith to counterpart the spices.
Though this was our server’s favorite, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the dish :(. All 3 of us agreed that the eggplant had a really strong smoky taste and other ingredients in the dish didn’t help to offset that either. However I was surprised to see how sweet the tomato was as it was almost like eating candy.
Seared scallop with a brown butter sauce? Classic combo, what can go wrong with it! Nothing makes me more happy than seeing a perfectly seared and glistening scallop… The scallop was buttery, semi-sweet and melted in your mouth goodness. I don’t remember what was the puree underneath, but it complimented the scallop perfectly without overwhelming it.
One very important thing to note is that the paella takes 45 minutes to prepare, so I would suggest that you order this first. Instead of tapas size, the paella was huge and good to share between 4-5 people!
One might say that the paella was overpriced, but the price point was comparable to other Spanish restaurants in downtown like Patria. Was it worth it though? Not so much. The rice was too mushy and there was no crispy bottom, aka. soccarat. All the components tasted great on its own but together as a whole, the paella was a bit dull and bland in my opinion. I also felt the flavor of the seafood and chorizo didn’t get to seep into the rice, and a bit more seasoning would have given this paella that magical oomph.
What? A mega dessert platter? I don’t see it on the menu though! Duh, of course not, it’s a secret item on the menu ;). There are four desserts on the menu (all $8): churros with dulce de leche, crème catalana, al pastel de chocolate (chocolate cake), and Spanish toast. Thus if you ordered all four items, it would have costed you $40 but with the mega dessert platter, it will save you $10!
Crème Brûlée (French) and Crème Catalana (Spanish), although both look the same and made with similar ingredients, they are actually quite different in terms of cooking method. If I remember correctly, the Crème Brûlée is cooked in a bain-marie (hot water bath) at a low temperature, whereas the Crème Catalan is cooked by stirring the cream at a low heat.
The custard had a rich and creamy texture with a nice slightly-burnt sugar on the surface that had a nice crack once you tap on it. Although there was some caramelized orange zests (?) on the side to cut the richness of the custard, I thought the custard could have been more flavorful if some spices or lemon zest was incorporated in the mix.
If you have a sweet tooth, you will LOVE this dessert as it was devoured by the three of us instantly. For the Spanish Toast, I believe the brioche bread was soaked in either custard or milk (it should be the latter), then pan-fried with butter and served with dulce de leche. The end result is an amazing toast with a crispy skin on the outside and the inside just ooze out like milk!
Is there anything better than cinnamon sugar fried dough served with a dulce de leche sauce?! Just look at that crunchy cinnamon sugar coating in the photo above and your mouth will instantly start watering.
I honestly really wanted to like the chocolate cake as it supposedly was less sweet than others, but my expectations felt short. The cake was incredibly dense and dry, and it needed more of that blueberry sauce to cut the richness of the chocolate.
After we inquired our server regarding the cake, the manager came out and explained that the chef was actually testing a new recipe and they graciously let us try it! As you can see from the above picture, the new cake had a layer of moose in between the sponge cake whereas the previous one didn’t. The sponge cake this time was less dry and dense, and the moose really helped to lighten up the cake. I also appreciated that they added more blueberry sauce which provided the much needed acidity to cut the richness of the cake.
Overall I had a great time at Tapagria and it also helps that our server, Danielle, was extremely attentive and friendly that made it an enjoyable experience. Though some of the dishes were lacking in flavors, the restaurant just opened four weeks ago and it still have time to improve. You can tell that the managers/owners really is passionate and cares about the food, and they are constantly trying to improve their recipes based on customer’s feedbacks.