There's a new Spanish restaurant in town, and not only is the food and wine Spanish, but so are the proprietor and much of the staff.
Located just east of Maple Tree Square at 52 Alexander Street, the restaurant's name, Salida 7, translates to Exit 7. The name references the exit on the Mediterranean highway--which runs from southern Spain north past Barcelona to France--that leads to the province of Girona and the Costa Brava.
Restaurant owner Peter Demichev hails from Girona and moved to Vancouver just two years ago. He opened Salida 7 on October 7 (at 7 p.m.) in the former location of Terracotta Modern Chinese restaurant. He's put a Spanish slant on the tri-level room with photos of Antoni Gaudi's fantastical architecture and a colorful mural at the entrance.
At a recent media event, Demichev explained that while the restaurant does serve specialities of Girona province, the menu reflects food from all over Spain.
"Spanish food has changed a lot in Spain over the last 15 years," he says. While tapas are still traditional, they've taken on multicultural influences, and that's reflected in Salida 7's modern tapas menu. (Tapas run $8 to $12, larger appetizers and main courses $12.50 to $35, and desserts $10 to $12).
Executive chef Sandro Oliveri is at the helm; he studied culinary arts in Girona, where he lived for 25 years. (He has also lived in Italy and was recently chef at Vancouver's Federico's Supper Club.)
Beatriz Gil, who used to co-own Café Barcelona and was once the Spanish Consul General in Vancouver, is the wine consultant behind the drinks menu. She's taken great care to source some harder-to-get Spanish wines and sherries. Currently, there are about 14 Spanish bottles on the menu--and Spanish sangria, of course.
Here's a look at some of the dishes I sampled at the media night.
A typical Spanish tapas, this piquillo pepper is stuffed with crab and served with an Andalucian Salmorejo Cordoba-style sauce, made of bread and tomato.
Shishito peppers stand in for Padrón peppers in this nicely charred, salt-licked dish.
A fusion of Spanish and Latin American flavours, these Kushi oysters are cured ceviche-style in a mild citrus-melon marinade. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night.
The tapas menu includes Catalonian-style toast with apple spread topped with Iberian cured ham.
Mushrooms sauteed with garlic and sherry top this toast that's served with sherry consomme.
Fideuà is a Catalan and Valencian version of paella that's made with vermicelli noodles instead of rice. Like paella, it's cooked and served in a large pan for multiple people. The server brings out the pan to much oohing and aahing, and then portions it out.
At Salida 7, there's a two-person minimum (at $20 per person) to order this dish, and it's made with Dungeness crab. (The version we tried, above and below, was made with Atlantic lobster.)
I'd never tried this dish before, and made with lobster, it was absolutely delicious. The vermicelli has crispy bits from the hot pan but it was also soft and luscious from absorbing the garlicky lobster stock.
The restaurant also offers a traditional paella Valenciana, which I didn't try, but I'd recommend the fideuà just to tuck into something different.
It's worth noting that many of the restaurant's servers hail from Spain, so Salida 7 is a good place to practice your Spanish or get insider travel tips.
Salida 7 is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 4 p.m. to midnight.