Café Ba Ba Reeba
Fashion Show Mall (last visit: October 2006).
Part of the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants, Café Ba Ba Reeba started out in Chicago, then opened a branch in Las Vegas. It specializes in tapas. Originally intended as bar snacks, the term now refers to small portions of food (at least in the United States). Choose a few and you have a meal; choose a bunch and you have a meal for a group of friends.
In addition to tapas, the menu offers paella and a few other items, but tapas are the stars. There are more than 50 choices, plus another dozen desserts. Cold tapas include serrano ham, olives and chicken salad; hot tapas include octopus, empanadas and roast dates with bacon.
The inside dining areas are dark: dark stained wood flooring, dark wood tables, moderate lighting. Loud guitar music plays; a Flamenco version of "California Dreamin'" was one of the more unusual selections. The outside area, facing the strip, seemed much more inviting, but it was too hot outside for me. Service was prompt; I ordered tapas one at a time, and they arrived pretty quickly.
At Café Ba Ba Reeba, tapas have been supersized. A typical dish could serve as a small appetizer for four people, or as an hors d'oeuvre for even more people. I was hard pressed to finish just three plates. Serrano ham, salchichon, chorizo & manchego cheese also included triangles of toasted bread with chopped tomato on top. Both the cheese and meats were thinly sliced, and very strongly flavored. A winner. It wasn't finger food, definitely requiring a knife and fork, but was big enough that it would best be split several ways.
Roast dates with bacon and apple vinaigrette was an interesting dish. Small dates (or perhaps halves of large dates) were wrapped in bacon, then grilled until the bacon was crispy and the dates were very chewy. A small amount of vinaigrette was poured on top. It was an unusual combination of sweet, salty, sour and fatty tastes.
Grilled squid in olive oil and garlic consisted of large pieces of squid (both body and tentacles) sautéed in olive oil. Barely cooked through, the squid was still tender. It was a little oily, but I liked it.
The food was OK, but as a solo diner I didn't really enjoy myself. The supposedly tapa sized portions are actually quite large, and not conducive to ordering many dishes if one is dining alone. I think it would be more fun with a group, at one of the outdoor tables.
There can be a lot of variation in the bill, depending upon how big a meal you want, and what you order. Figure about $20 - $25 per person, plus drinks, tax and tip.
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