Thursday, July 31, 2008
By: Rochelle Koff
A lot of restaurants have come and gone in the past 22 years, but Café Seville has survived -- and thrived. The cozy Fort
Lauderdale café was cooking up wonderful Spanish-influenced dishes like rabbit in rosemary sauce, seafood-laden paella
and tasty tapas long before we had a sea of ethnic eateries from which to choose.
IF YOU GO
Place: Café Seville.
Address: 2768 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
Rating: *** (Very Good)
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 5-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Prices: Tapas $9.95-$13.95, soups and salads $4.95-$8.95, entrees $20.95-$25.95, paella $43.95 (for two), dessert $6.95-$8.95. Weekday lunch specials $8.95-$12.95 including soup or salad.
FYI: Reservations suggested. Beer and wine; corkage $20. Bathrooms not handicapped accessible. AX, MC, VS.
Hidden in a storefront on East Oakland Park Boulevard, Café Seville is charming, with 49 seats in a sunny dining room. A
colorful mural of its namesake Spanish city, bullfighting posters and dark wood beams add authenticity. At dinner,
candlelight, white tablecloths and, on Saturdays, the talented guitarist Ramon Justicia, make it romantic.
Owners Joey Esposito (a former chef at Sage) and Sally Rembisz took over Café Seville in 1998 and brought back original
chef Jose Fuentes. You need a reservation to get a table on the weekend; the place is packed with devoted diners from as
far as Boca Raton and Aventura.
And no wonder. The food is consistently very good, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the service is professional
and accommodating -- to your kids, your taste buds, you name it.
Esposito has elevated the wine list, as the yearly Wine Spectator awards attest, with about 215 international labels. Our
spritzy, floral albariño ($40) was one of many fine Spanish varietals. Sangria loaded with chopped apples and oranges is
another delightful option.
You can graze on tapas like juicy grilled chorizo or plump scallops and shrimp cooked in sherry and escargot sautéed with
garlic, basil, tomatoes and mushrooms. There's a platter of sliced Serrano ham (Spanish prosciutto), chorizo, zesty
Manchego cheese and pimento-stuffed olives. Calamari does double duty: chopped with shrimp, scallops, hard-boiled
eggs and bread crumbs, then stuffed into calamari tubes and simmered in a saffron sauce.
The extensive menu includes duck, veal, steak, seafood and rave-worthy rabbit (conejo) that a friend found delicious and
golden brown, not at all stringy, skillfully stewed with garlic and white wine. Savor it with a tomato basil or rosemary
Paella, a café specialty, takes 20 to 25 minutes, so order it as soon as you're seated. Get a starter and the timing is perfect.
Our paella for two is flavorful and enormous, a mountain of moist Spanish rice chock-full of chorizo, chicken, calamari,
scallops, mussels, clams, shrimp, fresh snapper (or whatever's fresh that day), tomatoes and peppers with a parsley
A simple chicken breast with sliced mushrooms is enhanced by a veal demi-glace spiked with brandy. Yellowtail in white
wine with diced tomatoes, onions and scallions is clean, fresh and perfectly cooked. Another hit: a special of butterflied
pork chops stuffed with Manchego and mozzarella in a fragrant garlic-oregano sauce with roasted potatoes with a hint of
rosemary. On other dishes, bland sides of rice and broccoli were disappointing.
Desserts are house-made except for a summery mango sorbet. The tres leches is terrific, not too moist or cloyingly sweet,
with coconut milk as one of its three milks. A Spanish-style tiramisu with toasted almonds was a bit sweet for our taste,
but you'll devour the rich flourless chocolate cake, served with a dollop of sabayon. And don't miss our favorite: a warm,
coconut bread pudding, made with chocolate chips -- simply scrumptious.
After two decades, Café Seville may not be in the spotlight, but it still shines.
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