A Tapas place that…well…I’m not sure understands what Tapas are.
Note: I was home for Thanksgiving, back in Maryland. I should’ve taken the week off from writing, but…
Oh, I swore I wasn’t going to do this.
Okay, a restaurant as nice as Ranazul should not have this many problems.
Situated in an office park just north of Laurel, Maryland, Ranazul is a Tapas-themed restaurant that has this corner of the market all to itself. You’d think that that alone would be enough to give it cache in the marketplace, but you would be wrong my friend. Oh, so wrong indeed.
Perhaps my first clue, should have been the Hockey game that was playing on the TeeVee as we walked in, my party and I. Usually, at places like Paiche, Mambo’s (all great Latin restaurants) Teevees were all on, and we were treated to either the Futbol match or a selection of Latin Jazz to set the appropriate mood as we chowed down.
I’m not quite sure what mood is set showing the Caps/Maple Leaf game. I’m sure it’s a nice mood, just not very Latin.
Okay, no big deal. It’s the most current thing right? No need to worry about it. The place seems pretty full and our reservations are well taken care of.
Okay. Fine. There isn’t technically a…bathroom inside the restaurant. No, they share one with the lobby of the building they’re in. Just head out into the lobby (you never have to leave the building) and go wash your hands.
We started off with a lovely Sopa De Azteca. Tortilla Soup, but with a better name. This was something I’d come back for. It was tasty. It was vibrant. It even gave you just enough of a sweat. Man, I wanted more.
Then came the Tapas.
Perhaps Ranazul, the local Spanish restaurant, is not familiar with the concept of Tapas? You know, small plate eating of little Spanish treats that make you want to sample more and more?
Yeah, that’s not what’s happening here.
We are being presented with full sized plates of food. Not Tapas-sized plates of food, full…on dinner sized…if-I-eat-just-this-I’ll-be-fine plates of food.
Yeah, this kinda put a damper on things. All of the sudden, me and my party were confronted with the idea of having to tear through some rather large plates of food.
I…and I can’t believe I’m saying this because I’m not Spanish, was not brought up Spanish, do not have Spanish Godparents or anything, and can’t be considered an expert on Spanish cuisine, but…
…this ain’t Tapas. Not by a long stretch.
The food on the plate is Spanish. The taste is correct. It’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s not bad. The look, the presentation are all okay.
But the portion size…
What? Does Ranazul think that Spaniards eat like Suburban Marylan—
—oh my God, that’s it isn’t it?
It’s not Ranazul’s fault for dropping such big plates on me. It’s YOUR FAULT for Ranazul dropping such big plates on me.
Yes, the great American Suburbanite. Used to bland, below average chains, serving bland, below average food, and more importantly having it served to them in huge, huge portion sizes.
It’s not a meal unless your Pizza is the size of an average M1 Abrams Tank.
So, I’m sure at some point Ranazul tried to do the real Tapas thing, with real Tapas sized plates, and faced a fist-fight from their customers? Where’s all the food I ordered? Don’t tell me it’s just this.
Son of a…
Okay. Okay. It makes total sense now.
But that still doesn’t excuse dessert!
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, my dining companions and I went different ways. They went with the Prix-Fixe Menu, and were served a slightly smaller amount of the mountain of food I got. I started (as said above) with the Sopa De Azteca, and it was a gem.
I followed it up with the Patatas Bravas. Now, I did not expect to get Jose Andrés level expertise or anything. I’ve had Jose Andrés level expertise when he Guest-Cheffed at Umami Grove, and it was a revelation.
I’ve even had Patatas Bravas at the nearby Little Spain, and while it wasn’t quite up to Jose’s standards, they were still damn good.
I did not expect a plate of hash brown potations with a tin of cream and a tin of spicy…
The Peruvian Chicken that followed did not help. So, imagine two cuts of Fried Chicken (something they know about in parts of Maryland), drizzled in a nice, spicy sauce and served atop a bed of…you guessed it…more Potatoes, only without the tins to go along with them.
The Sautéed Asparagus was good. I wish they drizzled their little Olive/Pesto salsa over the veggies instead of the hard pieces of dry Mozzarella that they used instead, but it wasn’t bad.
No, the true sin of the evening, the most unforgivable moment of the meal came…at dessert.
My Father saw Sopapillas on the Menu.
My Father and I…we LOVE Sopapillas. They are among of our favorite dessert treats in the world. Imagine, if you will, a soft pillow of dough, fried up like a donut (which it basically it), sprinkled head to toe in sugar and drizzled with honey. THAT is a Sopapilla. At least, those are the Sopaipillas I know.
What we were served instead? (Shudder)
Imagine if you will, very dry, very flat…sweet…I don’t know the word I should use…crisps?, covered in powdered sugar, and drizzled in honey with the occasional raspberry.
They were something. They were decently tasty.
They just weren’t Sopapillas (at least, not as we came to know them in New Mexico). And the disappointment was palatable.
These…were freakin’ Dessert Nachos.
If we had ordered the damn Dessert Nachos off the menu, and gotten what we’d gotten, we would have have been so angry. We actually would have been happy.
But we ordered Sopaipillas. We wanted Sopaipillas.
And thus, a review as born.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: See above.
PARKING: Free, easy and plentiful. Like I said, this is an office park,and right behind the restaurant there were more spaces than a man could use in a lifetime.
8171 Maple Lawn Blvd. Suite 170
Fulton, MD 20759
Tel: (301) 498-9666
Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm