Qué tapas! feels good, but costs too much
On Valentine’s Day, which is fast approaching, folks like to take their loved ones out for a dinner. But, unless you have N$700 to blow on one meal, think hard before eating at Qué tapas! Spanish Bar & Restaurant.
It has a smooth ambiance, and the Spanish music playing is a nice touch. I like the variety of old fashioned, polished wood tables and chairs, and the sparse artwork is calming.
They serve great mojitos that are quite refreshing. The dishes we ordered on both of our visits were satisfactory, in terms of flavour and presentation. But with all that said, the amount they charge for their drinks and food, compared to what is served, is not worth it.
Recently my daughter and I decided to go to the recently re-opened Qué tapas! at 16 Liliencron Street, in Windhoek.
On a quiet Saturday afternoon, we ordered a delectable lamb dish with sliced bell peppers and second tapas of garlic shrimp, along with slices of toasted bread to accompany the meal. We wanted to order the pork tapas offered on the menu, but the prices were high, and since it was our first visit, we weren’t sure about the place, so we held back.
We enjoyed two mojitos (at N$80 per mojito) and were definitely ‘feeling no pain’ when the food arrived. Mojitos in other Windhoek restaurants usually cost between N$40 and N$50.
Menus are important and Qué tapas! should take more care in developing theirs. Aside from the ruffled, rumpled, photocopied pages on a clip board (that is the menu), Spanish tapas are not normal fare, and so the menu should be not only translated from Spanish to English, but explained.
For example, ‘Tapas Frias’ is noted as ‘Cold Tapas’. That’s nice, but what is a tapas? FYI – tapas are ‘small Spanish savoury dishes’. The menu should just say this.
I have eaten at tapas bars in other countries, so I had an expectation of what Qué tapas! might offer. However, the tapas offered at this Windhoek restaurant are actually appetisers that cost as much as a main dish.
The tapas bars I have frequented before had individually lower priced items on the menu, as people normally order four to five different tastes at a time and they are drinking cocktails too.
Tapas offerings should allow people to get a taste of each of the chef’s specialities, something with lamb, veggies, chicken, pork and maybe something with seafood, as separate dishes, so that they can be commonly enjoyed. But at Qué tapas!, including the tip, our bill that day was nearly N$400 for two tapas and two mojitos. The bread we ordered came too late.
The lamb special that was recommended to us that day was great. The deliciously spiced chunks of lamb, with the sautéed bell peppers in all colours, with some onion and potatoes, was not really a tapas dish, but it tasted great.
However, the overabundance of potatoes, vis-à-vis the lamb chunks in the dish, left us wanting. The biggest shock was the garlic shrimp. We got 12 tiny cooked shrimp for N$120. To be fair, it tasted good, but between two people, it was an unworthy tapas, as it wasn’t supported by the usual multiple dishes that are commonly ordered when one eats this kind of Spanish fare.
As gluttons for financial punishment, we returned with curiosity on a Thursday evening.
The worst thing about the evening was the irate, frenetic chef/owner that constantly entered and left the dining room, delivering plates of food (no hat on his head or other sanitary implements in view), demonstrably chastising waiters and flitting about the restaurant like a whirling dervish. His antics totally distracted our dinner conversation.
For dinner, we ordered the paella with seafood. That single dish was N$398 and serves two (according to the menu).
The paella’s rice was ever so slightly undercooked for my taste, but the seasoning and seafood flavour was top-notch.
I didn’t like the few shrimp served with the shell still on the tail nor did I like having two huge prawn heads, bay leaves and wedges of lemon with the peel on (all are inedible) baked into the dish. It’s okay for flavour while cooking, but then these things must be removed for neater eating.
Worse, there were clams in the dish that were unopened. A clam that does not open while cooking might not be ‘okay’. But, in any event, how should a customer be asked to go through the messy task of digging their fingers into the paella, and opening a closed clam, without the proper shellfish opening tools available?
We ordered three mojitos, sharing the final one between us. Our bill was N$620. With the tip, the bill neared N$700 for two people.
When I choose to pay such high rates for a restaurant meal, it must be a fantastic, special occasion meal, with all the bells and whistles.
Qué tapas! with its clipboard menus, cheap paper napkins and overly-nervous chef, simply does not meet that standard for me but you should go there and try it out for yourself.