Café Azafran’s Adventurous Kitchen Serves Up Tapas, Entrees with Flair
As a fan of singer/mixologist Holly Lane and keyboard genius John Flynn, it occurred to me that I most often go to Rehoboth’s Café Azafran on Thursday evenings when that duo entertains. And it’s always the restaurant’s terrific Steak Night special, which I have written about.
This time, while I went back on a Thursday night to see Holly and John, I was determined to sample some of the other delights from Chef Ryan Steele. Especially since he was named Top Chef of the Culinary Coast this past June at the Meals-on-Wheels annual competition.
As always, along with the assorted types of olives placed on every table, we started with cocktails, mixed by Holly, as she sang. She made us French martinis, managing to shake the martini shaker in one tempo and sing “The Way You Look Tonight” in another perfect ballad tempo. It’s a gift.
Determined to have a variety from the menu, we ordered three tapas items, Haricote Verts, Lamb Abondigas, and Shrimp a la Planche. The green beans were deliciously firm, with toasted hazelnuts and gorgonzola, a perfect pairing with the lamb meatballs. The meatballs were served with a light red pepper sauce and grated pecorino cheese, and our server Aaron told us that the meatballs are made every night.
Our third tapas selection, Shrimp a la Planche, was served with a green herb sauce. Great balance of flavors, with the delicate, perfectly cooked shrimp not being overpowered by the herb sauce.
Although our three tapas selections could well have served as dinner, we followed up by splitting the Duck Two Ways. That’s what we did, split it two ways, but Duck Two Ways was also the name of the entrée. Sliced duck breast was served along with a leg portion, accompanied by squash coulis, spinach, and potatoes roasted in duck fat, plus a cranberry relish. It was an explosion of delicious flavors and enough to share, leaving us sated and happy with our meal.
But Aaron recommended the Chocolate Gustos plate, and although we pleaded “no room,” we finally gave in to his suggestion. We were rewarded with an artistically presented platter featuring an array of gorgeous chocolate creations.
Luckily we happened upon friends at an adjacent table and they shared the fallen souffle (served in an espresso cup), triangles of decadent chocolate walnut tart, black magic truffles (there are not enough “to die fors” for this one), and pot au chocolate. Frankly, it was enough chocolate dessert for at least another two people.
Now about those special nights. Tuesday is $8 Tapas Night and the choices are many. Besides the three we tried, friends report that the goat cheese tapas is amazing. Other tapas dishes include artichoke bruschetta, gnocchi with herb butter, steamed little neck clams, and more.
On Wednesdays, it’s Shrimp Night, with an $18 dinner menu with a choice of shrimp entrees served with salad and bread. Choices include Pesto Shrimp, Spanish Garlic Shrimp, Spicy Steamed Shrimp and more. Six choices.
As for Steak Night on Thursdays, you get a choice of a petite filet or a rib-eye, with three kinds of preparations to select, salad, and bread for $24.
And I would be remiss not to mention that Café Azafran is open daily for lunch and for breakfast on weekends. I love to sit in the bright and airy front room, have breakfast with friends, and then walk the half a block to the boardwalk for a stroll.
So breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can enjoy this lively Baltimore Avenue restaurant. The kitchen blends Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine, plus creative seafood recipes, meat lovers’ favorites, and the bold use of fine cheeses. Check it all out online. ▼