by Anthony Vargas
As seen in the newest edition of The Rockit News
About five or so years ago, California experienced a tapas invasion. Everywhere one looked, there was a restaurant serving this Spanish specialty. Even existing restaurants added tapas to their traditional American menus, which made about as much sense as burlap socks. I was up to my knees in tapas. Now, in 2007, the invasion is over and only the best have survived.
The Courtyard, right on the outskirts of Boy’s Town, is my first choice for a pre-concert meal. The Roxy, Key Club and Troubadour are only a three to five minute drive away and parking is surprisingly easy to find. Santa Monica Blvd. was not impossible at all and there is a small free lot in the rear.
Our lovely red-headed host seated us immediately. One can be seated in the small dining room or out in, surprisingly, the courtyard. Normally I do not care for outdoor dining, especially on a tree-lined sidewalk with chirping birds overhead, but this courtyard was too inviting, with balconies on three sides and a quaint fountain in the middle. On a beautiful Southern California evening I cannot think of a nicer place to dine before marching into a dark and stuffy club.
The whole idea with tapas is communal dining so bring your friends along. Everyone simply takes what they want from a variety of small plates. Friends who eat together, mosh together. Entrée sized dishes are also available for those with larger appetites.
The Dates in Bacon ($8) are my new favorite. I thought it was an odd combination at first, like cola with bacon, but it works wonderfully. The Baby Spanish Sausages were sautéed in apple cider ($8). Those too were good, but just a bit too much vinegar for my taste. The Mozzarella Marinara ($9) was another highlight, crunchy and brown on the outside and white and creamy on the inside, much like my dinner companions.
For the meat-eaters, take a nibble at the Steak a los Pobres. This is a culotte steak served on a bed of potatoes. I did learn a secret– one can also order it on a bed of spinach topped with a little Cabrales (Spanish blue cheese).
The sangría at the Courtyard is reason enough to visit. We started with sangría by the glass but ended up ordering by the carafe. Save some money and just start with a carafe. The Sangría Royale was a lovely red wine with chopped fruit and some spices for good measure. The Peach Sangría is heaven, especially for anyone who enjoys a good Bellini. Another winner was the Cucumber Martini, which uses soju. Cucumbers go incredibly well with a martini. Oliver’s in Seattle is the only other place I know of who offers this drink.
The model-like staff was as friendly as they were attractive. It isn’t uncommon for the owner/chef to come out and talk to guests. With Basque and Catalan influences and even Salvadoran pupusas on the menu, the Courtyard is more than simply a tapas restaurant. It is these touches that make every visit a great way to start the evening.
Also be sure to check out their daily specials:
- $5.00 Martini Mondays – Cosmos, apple martinis, cucumber martinis, all only $5 each!
- Tapa Tuesdays – Buy one tapa at menu price, get the second at 1/2 price!
- Wine Lovers Wednesdays – All Bottles on our menu 1/2 price with dinner.
- Enjoy happy hour at The Courtyard twice daily from 4:30pm-6:30pm and again from 10pm – close.
8543 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069