Le Tasi Bistro's Tapas Thursdays - Delicious Spanish Tapas & Great Music
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
If I were asked to name some of my favorite restaurants, one would certainly be Le Tasi Bistro, Guam's "Taste of Europe", located on the ground floor of the New Marina Hotel in Hagatna. Since my first review in October 2000, Le Tasi Bistro has been mentioned a multitude of times in newsletters, on the radio, and in magazine articles I've written. The truth of the matter is that I love that place, I love the people who own it, and feel like I'm part of the family!
For those of you who haven't read my original review of Le Tasi Bistro, I'd like to share a bit of what I penned back then about the origins of Le Tasi Bistro:
"Once upon a time, a young Spanish woman named Mari was in London and fell in love with a young Frenchman, Bertrand, and they married and made great food; but it was cold in England, and they dreamed of living their lives in a faraway destination, on a remote tropical island somewhere in the Pacific, and they dreamed of having a specialty restaurant with a view of the ocean, with tables on the beach, where diners could enjoy the culinary magic their love produced, and where diners would experience 'the pleasure of a fine table.' That's no fable, it is a dream that has come true for Chef Bertrand Haurillon, wife Mari Carmen Aguilar, and their partners, Peter and Yeonso Park Koppen."
Le Tasi Bistro's weekly lunch specials are a favorite draw for the restaurants royal loyalty, or should I say loyal royalty - either way, people who dine there repeatedly have adopted this place as one of their great getaways (like taking a trip to France without needing a passport nor a plane ticket). The Salad Nicoise is always in demand with a huge plank of fresh seared tuna resting atop a bed of fresh romaine and swathed in a vinaigrette. There's no beating their fresh baked basil-infused bread either...this place has a "magic" baker who creates terrific cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, and desserts. Dinners are outstanding as well. You can their ever changing weekly lunch specials and monthly dinner menu at GuamDiner.com anytime - just reading the menus will make you hungry!
Today's review, however, is about Le Tasi Bistro's very special Thursday nights, which is Tapas Nights, an evening when you can savor delicious Spanish appetizers (little dishes) and listen to the inimitable sounds of that fabulous group of merry minstrels, Guam's own Pago Bay Reefers!
According to Mari Carmen (who is after all Spanish) Tapa comes from the verb 'tapar', which means 'to cover'. Originally, the tapa was a slice of cured ham or chorizo salami placed over the mouth of a wine glass (some say to keep the flies out) and served compliments of the house. To eat tapas-style is to embrace the Spanish lifestyle and eat by whim, free from rules and schedules. And trust me, schedules are the last thing you're going to be concerned with while grazing your way through plate after plate of flavorful tapas and tapping your feet to the rhythm of the banjo-pickin', guitar-strummin', harmonica-blowin', accordion-squeezin', bass-pluckin', drum-beatin' music and singing that comes to you LIVE on the floor stage of Le Tasi Bistro!
Among the tapas we ate were Gambas Pil-Pil (Hot sizzling chili shrimps with garlic $6.95); Salsa de Santiago (Spicy meat sauce topped with melted cheese and olives served with tortillas $6.50); La tapa tradicianal (Marinated Manchego cheese in olive oil and served on toast with Serrano ham $6.50); Champinones a la panilla con queso (Garlic grilled mushrooms with melted cheese $6.50); and Chulettas de cordero (Grilled lamb cutlets marinated with rosemary $6.75). We also had a small Caesar salad - something you can order anytime and that's extra good all the time.
Although Le Tasi Bistro's selection of imported and domestic beers are a $1 off when you order tapas, we had a glass of Spanish cabernet. A note to wine lovers: Le Tasi Bistro has an extensive selection of fine Spanish, French, and Italian wines that are available for sale in their retail wine shop - go check it out!
The tapas portions are small enough to allow you to eat a variety...I'm sure I've never had better mushrooms. They were marinated and covered in a melted cheese that was divine. Other tapas dishes available are Bocadillo de albondiga (Meatballs simmered in a peppercorn sauce served with basil bread $6.50); Bruchetta de cabra (Goat Cheese on garlic toast topped with marinated bell pepper $4.75) and Tartare de atun (marinated raw Ahi in a spicy mustard dressing $6.50). Tapas vary monthly and there are so many from which to choose, utilizing ingredients from artichokes to feta cheese.
The Pago Bay Reefers perform bluegrass, country, pop, ballads, rock, local, and other music genres - they welcome requests (someone asked them to play "Smoke on the Water", and I'll be darned if the accordion player didn't squeeze out that opening riff!) The musicians really enjoy what they do...they are a mixed lot of professionals and amateurs who love to make music and sing their hearts out.
Tapas Night starts at 5:30pm and lasts until 9pm every single Thursday. Lunch can be enjoyed Mondays through Fridays from 11an - 2pm, and Dinner at Le Tasi Bistro is served Mondays through Saturdays from 5:30pm - 9pm. The first Tuesday of the month features a fabulous All-You-Can-Eat Cheese Buffet Happy Hour from 5:30pm - 7pm that includes a glass of wine of your choice for $15. Some of the cheese delights Chef Bertrand creates for this event are absolutely other worldly. A definite must for cheese lovers and wine hounds. You can reach Mari Carmen for reservations and information at 472-7877.
There's always something worth eating at Le Tasi Bistro - Guam's taste of Europe, where you can, and I do, "enjoy the pleasure of a fine table."