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Speeds and I hadn't seen each other in a while, so she suggested we hit up one of our old haunts, a French place in Chelsea called Le Grainne Cafe. It's a great little place with the city's best Coq Au Vin. One day, I may review it (it's on the map), but not today. I decided that since a few of my recent posts have been about French restaurants, Speeds and I should go someplace else. Ostia, a West Village tapas place, has been on my shortlist to go to for quite some time, and what better time than now?

When I arrived at Speeds' apartment, she had just woken up from her post-workout nap. I know since I was the one who woke her up. Sweaty, cranky, and in need of a comb, she answered her door and I waited. Lucky for me, my cell phone has Tetris.

We arrived at Ostia a little later than we wanted to, but no later than I thought we would, since doing anything with Speeds means making sure you have an extra half hour to play with. No biggie. They weren't crowded and we got a seat by the window. It's a really great little place. Very dark, but romantic and warm. If this were a date, I'd have scored some serious points (note to self: go here on date).

The service is a tad on the slow side, but the bread is very good and the wine will have you forgetting what you ordered anyway. Noting the Arabian influence on Spanish cooking, the bread was served with hummus, not butter. And don't ask for butter, they don't have any. We checked and now impart our wisdom on to you.

They have a small, but decent-sized and decent-priced wine list made up mostly of Spanish vintages. But unfortunately, if you're not really up to polishing off a whole bottle, they don't have too many choices for those who just want a single glass. Luckily the wines that they do serve by the glass are very good. The whites are very sweet and better suited for dessert, so we stuck with a glass of dry red. A Toro, I think.

Speeds is allergic to the onion family. This means she can't have onions, shallots, scallions, and garlic. Can you imagine? A life without garlic? Where even a small piece gives you heartburn, an upset stomach, and all manner of digestive discomfort? You might as well eat tofu for the rest of your life and bide your time until all food can be had in pill form. Suffice it to say, we learned too late that she would be unable to eat a fair number of these plates. Suffice it to say, I ate more than I was supposed to. Suffice it to say, I guess every cloud has a silver lining... even if that lining is destined to line someone else.

The first things to come were the Almendras y Aceitunas, a mix of olives and salted roasted almonds and the Ensalada de Cabraldes, Manzana y Nueces, a blue cheese salad with apples and walnuts. At the end of the meal, Speeds told me to note for you all that the salad blew her away, which I will infer meant that it was her favorite dish. I liked it, too.

Next up were the Croquetas de Jamon Serrano, fried croquettes filled with ham and cheese. I liked them. Speeds was less enthusiastic. There were four. I ate three. Admittedly, they were the weakest and most generic of the dishes we ordered. If you like your steak raw, the the Montaditos de Solomillo (filet mignon carpaccio with artichoke) may well be for you. While I thought that they were superb, right between the steak and the toast the steak was on was an undisclosed thick layer of garlic that pretty much ended any hope of Speeds being able to have any. More for me. Heh heh heh.

Although we were slowly filling up, we weren't there yet. The beauty of tapas is that the small portions mean you never feel guilty ordering more and you always feel like you're eating healthy. So we pulled over the waitress and ordered some more. The Setas a la Parilla, grilled mushrooms, were incredible. Yes, there was garlic on them but enough was enough, said Speeds. And she ate. The last dish were the Patatas Bravas, a potato pie-type dish served with mushrooms. Another fantastic one. Actually, these last two were the best two in my opinion, even though Speeds voted that the salad should get the ribbon.

The whole thing: six dishes, two glasses of wine, a cocktail, plus tax and tip came to $100 even.

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