The interior of Belltown’s Taberna del Alabardero isn’t all that different from its days as Cascadia. Big windows that look out on to First Ave, and a reasonably large section of the reasonably large restaurant devoted to bar space. Though the much-beloved Alpine Martini is no longer on the menu, I was pleased to see that happy hour is still done very well at this location.
Given that Alabardero is all about Spanish tapas, it seemed fitting to start with sangria. And at $14 a pitcher for either the red or white variety, also fittingly well-priced. Light, a little sweet, and way too easy to drink more that my allotted one glass. Also on the happy hour beverage list were an Alabardero Lager, a selection of wine and Tinto de Verano, white wine with a dash of Sprite (aka Spanish white wine spritzer?).
On a couple of visits last week I did a pretty good job of working my way through many of the offerings on the happy hour menu. The Tortilla de Patata is indeed the traditional potato omelet as described, while the Mini Hamburgesa de Cordero (lamb and Mahon cheese slider with french fries) seemed like the kind of slider plate you might see in many places around town these days. The Coca Catalana, the flatbread pictured here, had a great combination of roasted eggplant, onion, red and green peppers and was nicely salty on the first occasion but definitely lacked same on the second.
The Serrano ham and Manchego cheese plate was straightforwardly delicious, though the $8 price seemed a little skewed when compared with other items on the menu. I was a big fan of Cazuela de Gambas al Pil-Pil, the sautéed shrimp in a broth of cayenne, olive oil and garlic, perfect for bread-dipping. The Croquetas de Jamon y Pollo, Iberico ham and chicken croquettes, are a deliciously fried guilty pleasure.
The most interesting dish, and my favorite of the bunch, was the Carpaccio de Vierias. I’ve had carpaccio in many forms, but never of the scallop variety. This is a very thinly sliced scallop placed over a creamy cauliflower puree and topped with scallion-infused oil and flying fish roe. Lovely, and delicately delicious.
The food at Alabardero was very good and the service fantastic, but they totally sealed the deal on my last visit by bringing out an enormous pan and serving samples of their house chicken and chorizo paella to everyone in the bar. This is a great happy hour alternative to other more “Belltown-y” options, and well worth a stop by to check out the sangria, the tapas and maybe even paella — if you’re lucky.