Another popular explanation says that the king Alfonso XIII stopped by a famous tavern in Cádiz (Andalusian city) where he ordered a cup of wine. The waiter covered the glass with a slice of cured ham before offering it to the king, to protect the wine from the beach sand, as Cádiz is a windy place. The king, after drinking the wine and eating the tapa, ordered another wine "with the cover."Sounds to me like King Alfonso XIII just discovered that bar food is an excellent balance to wine. To that, I have to say, "duh." Bar food also goes well with beer. Or $3 martinis. Especially at Virtu Restaurant & Bar in Columbia.
After a particularly grueling day at work, I was hardly in the mood to go home and try to find something edible in my sparsely populated cabinets. Instead, I called R, and told him that we were going out for beer and tapas.
We got to Virtu, and snagged a table outside. It was absolutely gorgeous outside and we had a great vantage point for watching all of the human and vehicular traffic on Devine Street. Virtu has some fantastic happy hour (4-7 p.m.) specials: $2 off tapas, $3 martinis, and assorted beer specials. Not bad at all. We opted for beer - R had an Alagash White (always a good choice), while I stayed true to my Pennsylvania roots and ordered a Victory Prima Pils.
|The entire bottom layer was crab. Outstanding.|
Virtu, while primarily a tapas restaurant, also serves salads and has sandwiches for lunch. Both R and I ordered a salad. R had the Three Hearts Caesar (hearts of palm, hearts of romaine, and artichoke hearts), while I had the special: a mini taco salad. R's was good....it was really a Caesar salad with artichokes. The dressing was tasty and there were probably more artichokes than anything else. But nothing terribly special.
|Just your normal Caesar salad.|
|Definitely a good choice.|
|Can you see how rich this sauce was?|
Let's start with the ravioli. Of the four things we ordered, I thought this was the weakest. It was served in a Beurre Blanc sauce, which was, as you would expect, incredibly rich and buttery. But here was the problem. I felt that it kind of overpowered the lobster. I really needed the lobster to have more flavor on it's own, but it seemed to solely rely on the beurre blanc. It wasn't bad by any means. It just wasn't as good as everything else we ordered.
|Look at how green that is!|
Then it was on to the Wasabi Panko Crusted Sea Scallops. I don't know about you, but when I see "wasabi" in the name of a dish, I mentally prepare myself for something spicy. I didn't really need to that for these. There was certainly a nice spicy kick, especially if you made sure to get some of the sauce on the dish, but it wasn't overwhelming. Maybe it was because of the bit of cream on top of each scallop. The panko bread crumbs added a nice textural contrast to the scallops. I loved these, almost as much as the asparagus. They are definitely on the "top be ordered again" list.
|I like the added greens too. I wonder if they're local?|
|I wish there had been more of them!|
After all of this food, we were pretty close to stuffed. But, once again, I had made the mistake of reading the menu before we went, and I was determined to try the Tres Leches Cake. Virtu only has three desserts on the menu, and we had a really hard time deciding what to get....so we ordered all three. The Tres Leches Cake was delicious. It was a three layer cake the was dipped in milk and then covered in chocolate. It was so moist and so chocolately. Definitely a dessert lover's dream come true.
|It probably would have been my favorite, if it hadn't been for the cheesecake.|
|Definitely came with pecans on the side.|
Then there was the cheesecake. It's listed on the menu as having "seasonal toppings." Naturally, I asked our server what was currently in season. It turned out to be strawberries. And they really were toppings. It was a cheesecake (again, round so as to avoid the too much crust issue) topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, and drizzled with a little bit of caramel sauce. Absolutely outstanding. I asked our server what other kinds of seasonal toppings they've had. She said that they were still experimenting since they'd only been open for about a year, but so far they had served s'mores cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, and they were talking about doing something with melons once it got into the summer. I'm anxious to try them all.
|LOVED the fresh strawberries.|
The restaurant itself is pretty tiny. We sat outside, but the inside isn't terribly large. There's a long, dark, polished bar, and a handful of tables. They had a live jazz band who started around 7 p.m. when we were there. They were playing inside, but we could hear them from our seat outside as well. I would definitely recommend that you try it out, especially if you're looking for something a little bit different than your usual fare.