How do you rate restaurants? What’s your criteria? I realized last night when I visited the newly-opened Ceviche that I have a 3-prong criteria*, specifically Atmosphere, Food, Beverages. Let me show you how this restaurant hits all the marks.
*It’s a given that cleanliness and service are paramount.
The company has 6 locations (Sarasota, Clearwater, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg and now Delray Beach). First, let me tell you about the Ceviche concept which I first discovered on a trip to Sarasota (see post) earlier this year.
Even though food is the most important element in running a successful restaurant, I start with atmosphere because that’s your first experience and it sets the stage/mood for what’s to come.
In the Ceviche culture, you get atmosphere and lots of it! They generally seek out old residential structures with architectural interest and create a very warm and inviting atmosphere … dark(ish) but with lots of ambient lighting, large bar, rambling rooms, lots of well-appointed decorations, and because it’s Florida — you get indoor and outdoor seating options in patios, alcoves and rooftop (elsewhere). The Delray location sits in the former Falcon House space on NE 6th Street in the heart of downtown Delray Beach.
I love this restaurant for its authenticity. It proclaims to be Spanish and it is … mostly. I don’t know where they came up with the name “Ceviche” — a dish that comes from South America and is continents away from Spain. That was a little hard to square for me, but the ceviche was very good and so were the real Spanish dishes so who am I to quibble?
We sat at the bar for a first drink and it was so comfortable that in typical tapas tradition, we remained there through 5 courses!
And, what’s a Spanish menu without paella? We opted for the Paella Negra (black rice flavored with squid ink) and were impressed with the amount and variety of seafood, topped off by a grilled lobster tail.
And, while I don’t normally do fancy coffees and dessert, I was lulled into such a celebratory mode — and it had been such a long time since I saw authentic (there’s that word again!) Spanish coffees on a menu, I just had to indulge. “Spanish Coffees” are wonderful concoctions of coffee, booze (Spanish brandy and Spanish cordials like Cuarenta y Tres) and cream.
Most people associate flan as the ultimate Spanish dessert (it is, and they have it), but my favorite is Tarta de Santiago from Galicia where my family comes from. No, they don’t have it but when I saw Almendrado on their dessert list, I had to try it. The taste is heavily almond-flavored and very reminiscent of the Tarta de Santiago although it’s flaky and sort of croissant-like. It was served with vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit, and crisp mint — and like all the dishes we tried, it was beautifully presented and quite delicious.
Ceviche offers full bar service. I l-o-v-e that their extensive wine list/book focuses on wines from Spain’s many wine-producing regions. They also offer Spanish brandies, cordials and beer. Authentic! There I’ve said it again!
I tried 2 different Albariño wines, one a random selection and the other their house wine which was good and eminently drinkable.
“Salud, dinero, amor y tiempo para disfrutarlos”
means ‘health, money, love and time to enjoy them’.
Am I happy Ceviche opened in Delray Beach?
You betcha! Por supuesto!