It's back! The rebirthed version of the casual, colorful and quirky Spanish tapas bar by Willy Trullas Moreno. Offerings remain familiar; mostly Spanish classics, like pork and chicken croquetas, patatas bravas, tortillas and albondigas, with Willy's personal touch deftly applied, plus more Latin American dishes like Peruvian ceviches and tiraditos. They've expanded the "two finger, one bite" tapas offerings, and added more paella, live seafood and meat off the grill. The new version is in a mall with a big terrace overlooking Xintiandi Park.
Atmosphere: Tucked away on the third floor of the Infinitus Mall next to Gaden, Tomatito definitely lives up to the self-proclaimed notion of a "sexy tapas bar." With locations in Manila & Saigon as well, it is easy to see how the El Willy Group concept would fit in with the Xintiandi crowd. The decor is bright, colorful, and has flair. The ambience of Tomatito is simple, yet sophisticated for the mall location and it certainly shows in their food & drinks.
Food: Since it was around early evening, we decided on a few tapas to pair with our drinks and we were quite lucky as each dish was on point & would recommend a try. The Croquetas de Ibercios were savory and the balance of textures is what you would expect from a deep-fried delicacy. The tartar de arun in crispy wonton skin was simple and a fresh contrast to the richer tapas. Lastly and without a doubt, the consensus favorite at the table was the cuttlefish. Even our out-of-town guest from San Francisco agreed that the cuttlefish with the citrus and savory components rivaled the seafood of the Bay Area. All in all, the food certainly shines at Tomatito and it is evident why patrons find their way to an obscure corner location on the third floor of a mall.
Service: This is where I was reluctant to give the full 5-stars. The food and drink were great, the atmosphere was lively enough to entertain, yet something was missing in the service. As mentioned in other reviews and in previously working in the industry, there is something to be said about the fundamental points of service. Timing & flow have a lot to do with the experience and just hoped for a quality of service that matched the food. Nonetheless, will be back for a complete dinner as the paella looked good when it passed us when we were on our way out the door.
Tomatito recently moved to a new location at the Infinitus Mall, Xintiandi. Your first reaction might be to decry the ongoing gentrification of Shanghai and the seemingly relentless migration of all manner of bars and restaurants to giant malls that all look the same, but this location could actually be an improvement for Tomatito.
The space inside is decorated nicely (the framed Spanish movie posters are a nice touch) and dimly lit at night time making it a good idea for date night. This is not fine dining however, and the atmosphere is still fun. When I arrived there were a couple of large groups enjoying their meals boisterously which I'd expect and enjoy in a tapas restaurant. The biggest change is the new outdoor terrace which gives you the option of enjoying your meal in the last of the autumn sun. There are also heaters which will be needed in the coming months and can be switched on at night time if you still want to sit out (they can pull the shutters closed to keep out the breeze if it is too cold).
The food is as as good as I remembered. Our first snack was the Salmon TNT which was also maybe my favourite. The clue is in the name here as this snack will explode with a spicy cream filling once you bite into it. The flavours are delicious and are made all the better by the combination of textures. I loved the crispy shell casing combinging with the salmon and cream filling. I recommend eating it all in one bite.
Next we had the Filete con airbag. These are little, slender steak and cheese "airbaguettes". Once again, the fun name describes it well. The airbaguettes are light and airy with just enough cheese filling and topped with a tasty thin slice of steak. Another excellent starter which just left us wanting more.
Our final starter was the Foie Gras a la plancha y explosion d chili y naranja (seared foie graw, orange and smoked chili explosion). Maybe I had ordered one explosion too many but the orange and smoked chili filling here felt a little bit overpowering with an overly citrusy blast and I couldn't taste much of of the foie gras.
For our first main dish we ordered the Pulpo de Gallega (Atlantic octopus, smoked potato and paprika sauce). This was impressive. The octopus was chewy without being overcooked and the potatoes were just perfect, with a nice cheesy topping. Having never eaten octopus and potatoes together I was surprised how well it all worked together.
Our last main dish was the Paella Valencianna. This is a Valencian style chicken paella with broadbeans and rosemary. The paella was tasty and the rosemary made it quite fragrant, but overall it was a little bit dry for me. I have had the seafood paella here before and would recommend it instead.
We finished the meal with two deserts - Tatin de manzana and Profiteroles. The Tatin de manzana ,which is an apple and almond tart with homemade ice cream, was very good. The ice cream was very tasty and goes well with tart. The profiteroles were also well made, sugary and delicious. After all this we needed an espresso which finished off the meal nicely.
Overall the meal was excellent. The new space may have lost a little bit of the homely feel of the previous location but it has improved in other ways, especially with the new terrace and sleek design. Overall the meal cost 890 for five dishes plus two deserts, a bottle of white wine (also good, and decent value at just over 200) and a couple of espressos.
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