2009-08-05 / Restaurant of the Week

Spanish Cuisine at Cafe Ole

The Nava Family invites you to experience the wonderful flavors of Spain at this one-monthold eatery on 36th Avenue in Long Island City. This petite restaurant was designed and built by the family with love and holds about 15 tables and has a handcrafted wood beam ceiling, exposed brick walls on three sides and glass doors

on the other that open to the street. Even the tables were made by hand, lit by sleek halogen lamps. The bar is graced by brick arches and offers fabulous sangria in both red and white varieties, a wide array of wines and beer, and cocktails, with special kudos to their signature cocktail. Your hosts Alex and Oscar will tend to you in regal style. Café Olé is conveniently located just around the corner from the Kaufman Astoria movieplex, making this an ideal spot to enjoy delicious tapas or a full meal either before or after a movie.

The skilled chef prepared an array of their appetizers or "tapas" to try. Shrimp in garlic sauce are made with tender, plump shrimp and an addictive garlic sauce that begs to be soaked up with the warm bread brought to your table. Tender pulpo is prepared two ways: Galician style pulpo a la Gallega is prepared simply and topped with paprika, olive oil and sea salt, while pulpo Café Olé is sautéed with sweet red peppers, tomatoes, onions and white wine ($9.95). Either dish provides a sense of Spanish cuisine and a treat for the taste buds. Delicate mushroom caps are filled with crispy bread crumbs, crabmeat, and cheese and drizzled with butter for two to share ($7.95). Savory slices of Spanish sausage called "chorizo" are sautéed with sweet peppers and onions and offer plenty to share. A light, refreshing appetizer of sweet red peppers are stuffed with crabmeat, diced fruit and mayonnaise, an Iberian specialty. A couple nearby ordered a bowl of fresh mussels, whose aromatic sauce of tomato, onion and white wine filled the air. These will certainly be on my list for the next visit.

Café Olé's tapas are so substantial and varied that indeed a couple could make a meal by ordering a few, along with a bottle of wine or pitcher of sangria. For those who prefer a full entrée, Café Olé has traditional Spanish and continental dishes in all categories including fish and seafood, meat and chicken. No Spanish restaurant is complete without the iconic dish called "paella Va lenciana". Café Olé's paella is served in abundant portion for one or two and includes plenty of shrimp, mussels, clams, chunks of chicken, chorizo, sweet peas and strips of red pepper amongst the bed of saffroninfused rice. Sweet lobster can be added to this dish or a seafood-only paella marinara is also available.


Shrimp in a green sauce made of garlic and parsley makes a wonderful entrée, or one can order a mixture of seafood with this same sauce. Shrimp Café Olé is sauteed with fresh mushrooms, onions, white wine and saffron broth, perfecting for spooning over the accompanying rice. Entrées come with a house salad of arugula and tomato and your choice of saffron rice, vegetables or their incredible house made potato chip style French fries. Fresh fillet of red snapper, tilapia, salmon or sole can be prepared in a number of ways, either topped with garlic sauce, green sauce, Diablo spicy sauce or zesty Creole sauce.

The chef does an excellent job of grilling Café Olé's filet mignon, which is not only practically fork tender, it also has rich flavor and was grilled to order. Rack of baby lamb chops are salted and grilled to perfection, rendering the meat juicy and tender. Veal or chicken cutlets are sautéed with butter, lemon and white wine for Francese style dishes.

Settle back after your delicious meal with a glass of port wine or other after dinner cordial. Get ready for desserts, all of which are made on the premises. Traditional flan is cool and creamy, while the tres leches cake is made with three kinds of milk, and is layered with summer peaches. The rice pudding is an old favorite and the chocolate mousse cake is irresistible, especially along with a nice cup of coffee.

Café Olé offers an economically priced lunch special for just $12.95, where you will eat like a "rey" or "reina". Café Olé is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and they are just around the corner from the Kaufman Astoria movie theatre and near all the shopping on Northern Blvd. There is plenty of street parking outside, and they're also a short walk from the R or V trains. If your budget doesn't allow for a trip to Spain, you can always try Café Olé, with its great food, wine, sangria and excellent service.

"We have all the ingredients to make you happy," declares Alex, so don't wait a moment more to visit.

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