361 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 366-1640

I very near flew out of work as I raced to Grand Central to catch the shuttle to Times Square for the 1 train. I try so hard to be on time, and get so pissed by those who can't show the same courtesy, but work prefers those who leave late over those who leave early (or even on time), so I squeezed every second I could out of the day before I hit the door.

Not one to like having to make reservations somewhere, I almost didn't even bother. But when I told a co-worker I was meeting friends at Flor de Sol for tapas, she gave me that "your funeral" roll-of-the-eyes and sternly suggested I get on the horn as soon as I could. The only time they had available was for seven, which was way earlier than I had hoped. I figured 20 or so minutes would be the bare minimum to make it from midtown to Tribeca. It took 23.

I hadn't really wanted to eat at Flor de Sol. Not because of the food or anything, but I felt like I'd been barking up the Spanish tree a bit much lately, and for that I apologize. But Flor de Sol was where I was supposed to go on a date about a year ago. Long story short, we started the date about 2 hours after we were supposed to and ended up going to this snooty pizza place around the corner instead. The pizza was medicore. I've been determined for the past year to return and see what I missed out on. Anway, when I got to Flor de Sol, already waiting were Gira and Chi. Ah, punctual friends. So refreshing. We went inside.

Normally if a restaurant lost my reservation, I'd have been upset. Instead, I merely raised a solitary eyebrow and said "oh good". Maitre d' Chick deftly cut through my sarcasm and, using her incredible psychic powers, deduced that I wasn't BSing her about having called in advance. I guess in the back of my head, I knew that we were in a neighborhood with plenty of other good places to eat. To her credit, Maitre D' Chick got us a table in minutes. "I trust you", she said. Sweet. Apparently some folks confuse Flor de Sol with Fleur de Sel. And wackyness ensues.

The first thing to hit the table was a pitcher of Red Sangria. Good stuff. After that came, it was time to get down to the business of food. We were there for its tapas, so its tapas we got. And its tapas ain't cheap. It's almost as expensive as the recently-visited Ostia , and not as good. You basically pay for the atmosphere. When we went, it was a Friday night and the place was dark and loud and kicking (in contrast to the weekend brunch crowd in the photos). A live band played salsa music about 10 feet away and the sexy couples and the ever-streaming flow of hotties made being a generally shy single guy even more painful. Luckily, we had booze.

The tapas all arrived at the same time and we dug in. All of them were good. None of them were great. None of them were worth getting again. Like Pad Thai at a Thai place, Patatas Bravas, satueed and spicy potato wedges, are a good standard dish that should always be done well. Here, they were too greasy and very spicy. Maybe you like spicy. I love it. But you shouldn't replace spice for flavor, and behind the burn on your tongue was an otherwise bland dish. At least it was cheap.

The Champiñones en Ajo, mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and garlic, were equally bland. Maybe they needed some pepper or sea salt or something. When I was a kid and didn't want to get out of bed for school, my mom would come in and start clicking the light on-off-on-off-on-off, and would time the clicks with the simple chant: "up". "Up-up-up-up". Something was needed to wake those flavors up. Something less annoying than my mom.

The Chorizos Española, broiled sausages in white wine basically reminded me of pepperoni. I can't beat it up. It tasted good. But it seemed to lack any depth. The best part of the tapas portion of the meal was the Pulpo a la Fiera, a spicy octopus dish. This is probably the only one I'd recommend and it went quickly with three foodies attacking it.

Since tapas aren't big, and since there were three of us, Chi suggested that we split a Paella Valenciana from off the dinner menu. This was a big dish of mussels, scallops, shrimp, clams, chicken, and sausage, over saffron rice and topped off with a whole lobster. Yummy. All the rice made me feel guity, but the tapas were small and I was hungry. This one I'd get again but it's definitely something you'd share. I don't think we finished it off, though we did finish off a second pitcher of sangria, so who am I to say?

A few coffees and a dessert Gira got that I forgot to write down later, we asked for the check. Service overall was perfectly fine. Everything came quickly and without incident. In fact, I can barely remember waiters even existing. It's almost like they used telepathy to read the menu in our head.

Gira and Chi paid the bill. My resistance was futile. I can't be certain, but I think the pre-tip tab floated somewhere in the vicinity of $150. Drinks at Church Lounge were on me.

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