Tapas, it seems, are all the rage nowadays. With Miami Spice still in effect, it was a chance for my to try out some tapas for myself. Bulla (pronounced Boo-ya) Gastrobar is a restaurant in Coral Gables that was inspired by popular tapas restaurants in Spain, and was offering a 3 course Miami Spice lunch for $19 per person. It features high-top tables and bar chairs, so it’s not exactly the type of place you’d want to take a disabled or elderly person that can’t climb into one of these seats. But, if you’re young and limber, you’re good to go!
Not long after being seated, our server came and took our drink orders. We ordered the white sangria, which had Cava, peach schnapps, and triple sec.
When I took a sip, I was surprised that it wasn’t all that sweet. It had a fresh, clean taste to it. I normally prefer my sangria to be sweet, but I found this incredibly refreshing. It had fresh strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries in it. They had absorbed just enough of the sangria to be a sweet, drunken morsel of deliciousness.
When the appetizers came, I was ready.
To the right is the chorizo a la cidra (sausage in cider), and the patatas bravas (angry potatoes) are on the right. The sausage was tender and flavorful, and served with some of the house bread. The cider sauce that the sausage was sautéed in was excellent for dipping the bread in. Just the right amount of savory and tang. The potatoes I ordered on a whim. I am so glad that I did. Each cube of potato was the ideal combination of crispy exterior and soft interior. Their “spicy brava sauce” is hard to describe, but it was creamy and not as spicy as they made it out to be.
My entree was something called estofado de buey, which was essentially a giant braised beef pot pie.
That’s right, folks. Check it out! It’s a giant pot pie served in a single-serve Dutch oven. The crust was actually more of a flaky pastry than a biscuit dough, and you could lift it up up reveal the savory contents underneath.
The meat itself was good, but could have been a little more tender. It was fun to kind of break into the pastry crust and let it soak up the broth and mix with the other ingredients. It was like sitting in some Spanish grandmother’s house and eating her homemade cooking.
The lomo de cerdo moruno (Moorish pork tenderloin) kind of blew me away. Pork and chicken are two things that I barely look twice at when at a restaurant. However, this pork, marinated in cumin and paprika, was so tender and juicy. It was served on a bed of olive oil potato creme. At first glance, it looks like it’s just runny mashed potatoes. But, once you dug your fork in, it’s like the potatoes has somehow been aerated into a savory cloud of awesome.
I was unable to finish my bucket-o-beef without skipping out on dessert. And skipping dessert was not an option!
Crema catalana (Catalonian cream) is essentially Spain’s answer to creme brulee. This was my first time trying it, and there were notable differences. Crema catalana is not as thick as creme brulee, and has more of a pudding-like consistency. Also, there are hints of lemon and cinnamon in the custard that are not present in a traditional creme brulee. As an added bonus, there were sliced strawberries lining the bottom of the custard dish. This is probably not standard, but the sweet and tang of the strawberries worked very well with the richness of the custard.
The coconut flan was, as far as flans go, pretty well-made. I don’t like coconut, so I was happy to discover that the coconut taste in the flan is very muted. It was served with a scoop of passion fruit sorbet, which was bursting with passion fruit flavor. Eating the flan with the sorbet was like a symphony of sweet, tangy, rich, and smooth going on in your palate.
Initially, I had my reservations about trying Bulla Gastrobar, but I am happy to report that they more than exceeded my expectations. Service was prompt and extremely friendly. The food was unique, diverse, and flavorful. If you’re ever in Coral Gables and in the mood for tapas, definitely give Bulla a shot!
For more information on Bulla Gastrobar, visit http://www.bullamiami.com.