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Majorca marvels with meals and music

By Johanna Ohm     8/22/12 7:00pm


A taste of Spain is tucked away in Midtown's western corner. Just minutes away from downtown and only a few miles away from Rice, Majorca Bistro and Tapas offers delicacies from its name- sake island and a glimpse of authentic Spanish tradition.

The dining experience at Majorca dif- fers from the neighboring restaurants clus- tered along West Gray: Majorca seems to be much more than a restaurant. It is a bit of a club, sometimes a bar and more popularly, a dance venue.

Diners who chance a visit on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights will get to experi- ence live Flamenco dancers cutting through the dining room. Sunday brunches come with complimentary booty-popping: There is a live disc jockey playing mashups from a wide variety of artists. Entertainment seems to be a priority at this Iberian eatery, with Wednesdays featuring new forms of weekly live entertainers and Sunday nights offering salsa dancing for the avid salsero looking for a new scene. As an extra perk, salsa nights come with discounted mimosas.

Chic decor adds to the fun atmosphere. Metalwork decorates the outdoor terrace, large Spanish paintings adorn the walls inside, and European tiles add a colorful accent to the shelves behind the bar. The restaurant has a large outdoor seating area with white lights laced around the railings for nighttime diners and red umbrellas to shade brunch tables from the sun.

The waitstaff is sophisticated, yet friendly. Waiters are knowledgeable and helpful in ad- vising dish-beverage pairings as well as pro- viding expert opinions on the tapas choices. The lack of escargot last Saturday was some- what disappointing, but the waitress chimed in with a helpful recommendation for the Peces Sarro, a layered tapas dish with tilapia, shrimp, scallops, avocado and olives.

The menu offers a wide range of small plates: There are options that cost as little as $3 to $4 for light vegetable samplings and $6 to $9 for meatier tapas, such as the empana- dillas stuffed with oxtail. The prices for larger entrees are reasonable and a bargain relative to their quality and preparation. The salad nicoise is topped with raw sushi-grade Ahi tuna, served with a light, spicy mustard dress- ing, copious amounts of beets and a well-por- tioned volume of greens. The sandwiches are all priced around $8 to $9, whether ordering lamb brochettas in pita bread or the veggie burger with feta cheese. The catch of the day, a whole fish complete with bones, costs $28.95 but provides enough fish for an entire table of hearty appetites.

Other entree items provide an eclectic mix of options: everything from glazed duck breast and the more expensive lobster tail to grilled rabbit and steamed mussels. There is a refreshing em- phasis on alternatives to chicken. Majorca offers anything but the ordinary take on Iberian. Yes, there is chicken and steak, but not prepared in the ordinary way of the mass-produced versions.

The presentation for each dish is also im- pressive in itself. Thinly sliced fried plantains are served like chips with the tapas and squiggle their way up from the plate. Colors from red to green splash across the tops of soups and each dish arrives as a near-art form.

The dining experience at Majorca is sure to delight and surprise. In the words of a Spaniard: Fantastico!

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