Pasadena, April 25, 2011—THERE IS THIS DANGER when dining in tapas restaurants: the ordering can be complicated. Tonight the four of us had: padrones peppers, arugula salad, beet salad, lamb sausage with white beans, salt cod and potatoes, steak tartare, and another order of steak tartare. Everything went smoothly enough, except that the second tartare — mine, of course — never seemed to turn up. I reminded the waiter a number of times, finally pointing out that if he didn't bring it soon it would be well done. I wanted my steak tartare, especially after seeing Todd eat his: nicely chopped, evidently with capers and onions already chopped in, with a raw quail egg sitting chastely atop.
My tartare finally arrived, but lacking its egg. I pointed this out to the girl who'd brought it — not our waiter; we'd never seen her before — and she said she'd been told in the kitchen that they might not have an egg.
Nonsense, I said, of course there's an egg, it's a kitchen, they're certain to have an egg somewhere, please bring it back with an egg.
She took it away and we continued our conversation, though I was a little distracted, thinking about my tartare. The salt cod was gone. The lamb sausage was mostly gone. We'd finished the salads long since, and Todd's own tartare plate was clean as a whistle. He had another glass of cava; I poured myself another glass of tempranillo. Finally it arrived.
Even though I'd begun to tear into it before I thought of taking its photo, you can see what's wrong. It has an egg, all right, but the egg is cooked. I've never in my life seen a steak tartare with a poached egg on top. It was okay, I suppose, but the romance was off the evening.
Cava, Cristalino; Tempranillo/Cabernet sauvignon
Bar Celona, 46 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena; 626.405.1000
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