After 2 years of living in close proximity to the Town Center, I can now pretty much only handle it in small doses. The last thing I want to do after an afternoon of shopping is deal with more crowds at California Chang’s Factory…or whatever. Thus, non-chain option (and wine bar, woot!) Ovinte was a welcome addition, though it may be better suited for a happy hour (I’ve done a few there) or light pre-/post-movie munchies than dinner.
I was recently invited to a blogger event to sample some of the menu. About half of the menu is traditional tapas, but there are more substantial, non-Spanish items for the less adventurous. Having now tried some of those, I may even be able to convince Mario to check it out with me. His usual line to avoid such outings: “Tapas is just Spanish for ‘expensive’!”
We started with a cheese & charcuterie plate:
The current menu offers more than 15 meats and cheeses to customize your plate. All are served with local honeycomb, marcona almonds, and seasonal fruit.
Next, some of their most popular tapas: bacon-wrapped dates (Medjool dates stuffed with Tetilla cheese, apple wood smoked bacon) and Carciofo (Crispy fried artichoke hearts, lemon-thyme aioli)
There’s very little to say about a sweet fruit stuffed with salty cheese and wrapped in bacon except: awesome. The fried artichoke hearts could have used more salt and lemon, but I liked that they felt like a light snack (I’ve seen these done with a heavy batter) and stayed crisp.
Lots more tapas followed, including Empanadas de Chorizo (Chorizo and tetilla cheese turnovers with saffron aioli and paprika oil), Ceviche Fresco (Local fish marinated with citrus, onion, radish, olive & peppers served with house made tortilla chips), Moroccan-spiced Pork Skewers (Grilled pork tenderloin seasoned with moorish spices, arugula salad, fig gastrique), Shrimp Romesco (Sautéed Mayport shrimp, sauce romesco, on lightly fried bread), beef Tartare (Diced beef tenderloin, arugula, shallots, capers, parmigiano, sherry mustard vinaigrette), and a Lobster Raviolo (Maine lobster, ricotta, oyster mushrooms, sherry-lobster emulsion):
The stars of this course were the lobster raviolo and ceviche. The sauce on the former made me want to lick the plate (but alas, we were sharing, true tapas-style) and the ceviche was refreshing and different, as I’ve never seen radish or olives in a ceviche before.
Next we got plates of the more substantial dishes to share, including the Pappardelle Bolognese (Pork and veal simmered in tomato, house made Pappardelle pasta, shaved Parmigiano), spring risotto (sweet peas, asparagus, wild mushrooms, fresh lemon, pea shoots), seared scallops, and the coup de grace, 50/50 Sliders (Half apple wood smoked bacon, half ground sirloin, caramelized onion, tetilla cheese, harissa aioli, served with truffle fries).
All of these dishes were fantastic. The bolognese and handmade pasta were delicious, the risotto was surprisingly well-done (loved the spring flavors), the scallops were perfect, and the sliders…omg. Patties made with half bacon and half sirloin?? So, so good. The truffle fries aren’t to be ignored either.
Finally, we rearranged our stomachs to make room for dessert, Smores d’Ovinte (graham cracker dipped in dark chocolate, sea salt, toasted home made marshmallow) and Limoncello brioche bread pudding (Served with Tahitian vanilla bean gelato, finished with Caravella Limoncello syrup):
I thought the bread pudding could’ve used more lemon flavor, but I really liked the smores. I plan on salting all my future smores; the salty/sweet combo was awesome.
Obviously, there’s more reason to visit Ovinte than just their 200+ bottle wine list. The kitchen is turning out some really great small plates in a relaxing space.