A friend and I recently met midweek to have lunch at Aioli Bodega Espanola which is located at 18th and L Streets in the Midtown Sacramento Handle District. It had been a while since I had been to Aioli Bodega Espanola, and I was looking forward to catching up with my friend while enjoying lunch.
We arrived at 11:30 a.m. and we were immediately greeted and seated next to one of the large windows which let in the natural light. The restaurant is small and cozy, with a pleasant ambiance. We were the only patrons at that point in time.
When the waiter found out that my friend had not dined there before he walked him through the menu – which is quite extensive. His help was much appreciated as much of the menu is in Spanish. The service throughout the meal was top-notch.
I had a meeting to attend that evening so I inquired about the menu del dia. The menu of the day is a three-course meal consisting of soup, a main course (fish, pasta or stew) and dessert for $15. The soup of the day was asparagus, and the dessert was Pastel de Almedras (almond cake with honey orange flower water). I love mussels, so I settled on the pasta dish – Mejillones ‘ailoi’ (mussels, garlic, sherry, cream sauce). My friend ordered the Gambas Parrilla (grilled marinated shrimp, citrus, cumin, grilled avocado, salsa fresca) ($13.95).
The creamy avocado soup was both a beautiful color and very tasty. The soup, made without cream, was topped with a drizzle of oil.
The Gambas Parrilla was served at the same time as the Mejillones ‘aioli’. The plating of the Gambas Parrilla was very attractive, and the dish was well received. My pasta dish was delicious. The pasta was al dente, the mussels were plump, and the garlic sauce was nice and garlicky – a garlic lovers delight.
Once we had finished our main courses the waiter checked in again asking if my friend would be interested in dessert. My friend decided to order the Chocolate con Acento Frances (chocolate mousse and berries) ($7). It was a good choice. He noted that he obviously had a “star” theme going on – both the shrimp dish and dessert appeared to be shaped like a star.
My almond cake dessert was ok – but no more than that. However, I had enjoyed the soup and pasta dishes so much that I did not particularly care that the dessert fell short.
Before we left I made a point of showing my friend the small but beautiful outside patio in back of the restaurant, a great place to dine on a nice summer afternoon or evening. The sun was out and I had a moment of regret that I had not asked to be seated outside.
My friend and I had been so busy catching up that it was only as we were walking out that I realized that we were still the only patrons in the establishment. Strange.
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