Sangria: Perfect for Punch-Drunk Love

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A couple of Tuesday nights ago, my date and I went for dinner at Sangria Mediterranean Tapas and Bar on Cole Avenue.  On Tuesdays the restaurant offers half price bottles of wine, which you can take home if you don't finish by the time the check comes.  We considered the wine special but then elected to share a pitcher of red sangria.

I've heard many opinions on the sangria in Dallas.  Some people prefer the wine punch at Café Madrid over that served at Sangria or Si Tapas, while others wish Hola still existed and served its version.  When I lived in Seville, Spain, during my junior year of college, the senora I stayed with declared that the best sangria is always made with cinnamon and that a cinnamon stick remains in the sangria pitcher until it's drained. On our date at Sangria, the pitcher we drank from lacked a cinnamon stick, but my date and I liked it all the same, including the bite size, alcohol soaked pieces of pear and apple that floated in the sweetened red wine.

Sangria is a good place for a relaxed date, when you don't have a show or party to rush off to, since the wait staff let's you take your time and linger.  However, it may be a bad feature for the restaurant when it's your first date and you're not that comfortable with the person yet, or if you're plain not that into your date -- because you could be waiting a long time. Good thing my date and I liked each other given that our waiter took his time taking our order, bringing our food, taking our dessert selection and finally bringing the check.

We fell in step with our surroundings and weren't bothered at the restaurant's slow vacation-like pace. My date and I took our time selecting and eating our tapas of: ham and chicken croquettes; duck confit; garlic shrimp; and warm pencil-thin asparagus and hearts of palm slaw. We even staggered them so they didn't arrive at our table all at once.

Without a doubt, my date and I liked the duck confit with French lentils, Black Mission figs, Pedro Jimenez sauce and crispy jamon serrano best. It may not have been one of the traditional tapas you could order in Spain, but it had the best blend of flavors and textures. We ended up finishing the whole dish even after we both said we were "done" because of the delay before we got to put in our dessert order.

But no complaints -- the lazy atmosphere let us enjoy the live music streaming through the open doors of the restaurant onto the patio. Sangria has a lovely patio, and I'd recommend it any time you dine there. Sitting outside allowed us to talk and hear each othe -- a table inside near the musicians would have been too loud. When we ordered a dessert, we choose one that wasn't on the menu -- the tres leches cake.

The sweet indulgence wasn't as moist as the cuatro leches cake at La Duni, but the chocolate sauce surrounding our piece of cake made it unique and not at all inedible. Full on tapas, we couldn't finish the dessert even though we were sharing. So we let our server take the cake away and enjoyed some more of the music before we left.

Our dinner made for a fun, low-key Tuesday night. I'm so glad my date suggested we eat at Sangria. I hadn't been there for quite a while and had forgotten how it's such a pleasant place. And if the food and great atmosphere don't fit your fancy, you can always look at the scenery -- the servers all happen to be really easy on the eyes.

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