Lamano, the Newest Spanish Tapas Bar in the Heart of Chelsea
By Jennifer Shanteau
What is more perfect for a hot summer evening after a long day at work than Tapas? Let me answer that……not much. You’re hot, so you don’t want to eat anything heavy. You’re tired. You want to relax, so you have some wine, and suddenly all is right with the world again. What started out as basically the bar snack of Spain has become a huge trend in America. Tapas consists of several small shared plates of delicious Spanish food to nibble on as you unwind, chat, and sip wine with friends. Though there are now many tapas places to choose from, one of my very favorites is Lamano, an intimate Tapas and Wine Bar in the heart of Chelsea.
One of the things I love about Lamano is that you can see Chef Daniela cook. If you sit at the bar, which happens to always be my favorite place to sit, it’s like having dinner at her house. I mean, essentially, you are. I was mesmerized by the way she effortlessly transformed simple, high quality ingredients into the masterful dishes she presented to me.
Before I moved to Astoria, king of all things Greek, I hadn’t indulged in much octopus. Now that I’ve become a huge fan, I order it whenever I see it on the menu. Coming from the land of olive oil and lemon, the Pulpa a Feira at Lamano with Potatoes, Olive Oil and Pimenton was a twist on Octopus I’ve never had before. If you like spicy food, this dish is for you!
Razor clams is something I don’t eat often, and now I’m wondering why. Their Navajas with Olive Oil, Dried Olives, Vanilla and Garbanzo was absolutely delightful. The salt of the olives, the creaminess of the oil and garbanzo beans, and the very subtle sweetness of the vanilla paired perfectly with the razor clams. I soaked up every bit of the tasty brine left in the bottom of the tin with bread, only because I didn’t think it would have been becoming to straight pick up the tin and down it all in an instant. Oh, don’t you love the presentation?
If you are feeling less adventurous in your seafood selecting, order the classic shrimp. The Gambas Al Ajillo, Red Shrimp with Garlic and Guindilla Peppers is superbly succulent. Not only is this shrimp cooked to perfection, it also leaves you feeling like you finally ate a few shrimp. I tend to find most small shrimp dishes disappointingly lacking nice, good-sized, meaty shrimp, and if you do get lucky on that front, you are served two or three at most. This shrimp did not disappoint.
I was enticed by an online pic of the next dish before I even set foot in Lamano. However, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was. All I knew is that it made my mouth water with anticipation. Turns out, it was the Tortilla with Free-Range Eggs, Potato Confit, Carmelized Onions and Truffle Oil. Yeah, now you get it. I’ve never seen a tortilla like this before. Wow! It was essentially the yummiest quiche enclosed in an envelope of Tortilla, then browned to buttery perfection.
Every bite I took at Lamano made me happy, but my favorite plate of the evening was the Croquetas with Serrano Ham and Guindilla Aioli. I love Croquetas. I can’t help myself. The crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside duo is always a winner with me. Put ham and cheese, one of my favorite food combinations in the middle, and that’s heaven in a bite! When I told Chef Daniela this was my favorite, she said it was her very own recipe. I also told her I wanted to take home a giant bag of frozen Croquetas to be warmed in my home oven at will, but she didn’t take me seriously. So, Chef Daniela, if you’re reading this, I’m serious. I’ll pay you. Call me.
Of course, you have to have a good glass or five of wine when eating Tapas, and at Lamano that is easy to find, and their prices are reasonable, too! I asked my waitress what she suggested, and I have to say, I’m glad I did, because she knew what she was doing. She recommended the Clos de Torribas Tempranillo Crianza 2013 from Penedes. It was perfect with the food, not too heavy, but able to hold its ground. So, if your wine knowledge is less than is to be desired, don’t worry. You’ll be in good hands here.
In fact, when it comes to Lamano, I sincerely believe you could close your eyes, point anywhere on the menu, and end up with an amazing, satisfying array of plates. Hmmmm……..perhaps that could be fun for my next visit?