Rhythmic Dining – Sevilla in the Gaslamp

| November 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

If the music and rhythms of flamenco are exciting to you, go to Sevilla. That Southern Spanish city, so similar to San Diego in weather and architecture, has many “caves” and venues where some of the world’s best flamenco can be experienced. But if the cost and time for travel to Europe is not in your budget, go to Sevilla, the restaurant, where the music and dances can be similarly enjoyed, together with excellent traditional Spanish cuisine.

Sevilla operates restaurants in San Diego’s Gaslamp, as well as in Long Beach and Riverside. The chain is now celebrating an amazing 25th year anniversary of delighting diners and patrons. Be sure to note the new address for the Gaslamp location. Sevilla moved from 4th Avenue to a new location on 5th Avenue. But the setup of the new location is similar to that of the old — a comfortable restaurant and bar on the street level and a dining room-theater on the lower level. Descending to the lower level feels a lot like entering a “flamenco cave” in Spain.

Flamenco music incorporates dance, guitar, rhythmic clapping of hands, stamping of feet and snapping of castanets and fingers. When lively, it has a feeling of great spontaneity.

Sevilla offers entertainment nightly in its restaurant and tapas bar, on the street level. The acts change frequently and a calendar of acts and events appears on the website: www.cafesevilla.com. The flamenco dinner show runs on Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., with seating beginning about 7 p.m.

There is a special show menu featuring celebrated Spanish cuisine, although one may order dishes from the regular restaurant menu. Paella is considered the national dish of Spain and is made of regional food items baked in a shallow pan, mixed with rice and herbs. One of the most popular herbs is saffron, an expensive but very flavorful condiment.

Different regions of Spain have different forms of paella. Regions along the coast favor seafood. Inland regions include chicken, beef and lamb. There is even a form of vegetable paella that is popular. Because much flamenco music is associated with Valencia, “paella valenciana” is the featured dish on the three course dinner show menu. This type of paella has it all — mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, scallops and sausages on saffron rice. It is spicy, interesting and very filling. Dinner begins with Ensalada Sevillana consisting of goat cheese, tomato and cucumber in balsamic. Dessert is Crema Catalana, a chocolate crème brulee. Thus, one gets tastes of three regions, Valencia, Sevilla and Catalan.

I selected Meat Paella Rupestre, off the restaurant menu. It was made up of a large pan of roasted pork, sausage, chicken, lamb and steak. It was so good that I actually finished it all.

For those with truly good appetites, starters, tapas and empandas can be ordered. These include a tasty olive sampler. The anchovy stuffed olives were best. Chicken Al Ajillo and Shrimp Al Ajilla (with lots of garlic) are great way to wake up the tastebuds. The Wild Mushroom Empanada, with oyster, Shiitaki and Portobello is a very interesting dish for an appetizer.
Sevilla offers a large bar menu with specialty cocktails, a nice list of fairly priced red and white wines, a choice of champagnes and both foreign and domestic beers. It also promotes a “happy hour” with a discounted food and drink menu and serves a Sunday brunch.

To me, though, it is the flamenco show that brings me closest to experiencing the delights of Spain and its gypsy inhabitants. It is always thrilling to me to dine on national Spanish cuisine while being entertained with the sounds and rhythms of guitars, castanets and stomping feet.

Sevilla is located at 353 Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp. Reservations are a must. Tickets for the flamenco show must be purchased in advance. Call 619-233-5979 for reservations, tickets and information.

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