Pueblo

I discovered some great eats in OC while celebrating my birthday this year.  My memory card was full so I was not able to capture my experience at Juliette Kitchen, which was pretty darn good.  I was pretty bummed about that, so I made sure to be ready for Pueblo.  They are serving up modern tapas here.  Generally, I have not been impressed with Spanish cuisine, but Pueblo does it right.  Teety, Soprano Man, Can’t Hang, Rock Dweller, Solarphobic, Auto Geek and his wife joined me for the second birthday dinner for 2015.
We was plenty hungry, so we hurriedly enjoyed the free bruschetta/toast appetizer.

Cheese & Charcuterie
Really great selection, which I can’t really recall but its hard to dislike anything served on a wood board, slate board, cast iron skillet, or mason jar.  Am I right??


Pollo Repollo crispy chicken, pickled kale, onion agridulce
Teety and Solarphobic had been to Pueblo before so helped make some recommendations.  The crispy chicken paired nicely with the pickled kale and onion marmalade-like concoction.

Queso Fundido charred goat cheese, black truffle, honey
This sh*t was booooooommmmbbb!  Why do goat cheese and honey pair so nicely?  Throwing in the heady aroma of truffle certainly elevated the delightfulness beyond all measure.  This is a must get!

Albóndigas de Cordero lamb meatballs, pimentón, sofrito, mint
Very lamb-y, so don’t get this if you’re not a fan of game meats.

Montadito de Costilla shortrib confit and crudo, mustard seed, toast
Two preparations of shortrib made for interesting textures and tastes.  The little pickled bits and mustard seeds added great contrasting flavors.

Bocadito de Foie foie gras torchon, smoked duck, rhubarb jam
Rock Dweller and Can’t Hang are not really adventurous foodies, so they easily pass on things like foie gras.  They certainly missed out because this was such a delicious little bite that we had another order so that we didn’t have to split each portion.  Salty, sweet, tangy all interplayed nicely here.

Mar y Montaña seared pork belly, sea scallops, cauliflower crema
They do a fantastic job pairing ingredients I don’t usually see together.  Who knew all this would harmonize?  Yums!

Croquetas de Paella shellfish, bomba rice, squid ink, saffron aioli
These were far more successful than the actual paella.  Crispy exteriors, soft interiors, contrasting sauces.

Seared Duck Salad
The next 3 dishes were specials of the day.  The salad was nice, had good acid.  I can’t remember what the crispy square was but it was the best part.

Lamb Chop
Sadly, this chop was quite undercooked and much too rare for most everyone’s liking and even my own.

Paella
The paella was not all that successful.  Soprano Man complained about the many raw garlic slices that he bit into.  There was a generous slathering of an aioli, which added much too flavor and heavy creaminess when taking the wrong bite.  This was a disappointment.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake
Teety highly recommended this dessert.  While the cheese part was a tad grainy, inherent in goat cheese, the the tangy sweetness was far more interesting and elevated than your normal cheesecake.  Instead of a graham cracker crust, some home made granola was strewn across the dish adding some soft yet crunchy texture.  The basil was a unique addition, which you either loved or thought was weird.  I kinda liked it.  Who knew basil had a place in dessert?

I was pretty impressed with Pueblo because my experience with Spanish tapas has only been memorable for being pretty meh.  So I guess expectations were low.  Even if they weren’t Pueblo still would stand out.  The majority of the dishes were pretty solid, with the exception of the daily specials, which I imagine haven’t had as much time get the kinks worked out.  We were probably able to avoid some of the misses on the tapas menu because Teety and Photophobic steered us right.  Juliette Kitchen probably was a tad better, but Pueblo is just a short second.  Both are places you should check out to spice up your boring OC dining scene.
10 – You NEED to eat here 
9 – Awesome! 
8 – Very good
7 – Good 
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT go here

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