(photo credit: Courtesy)
A general category of food eaten between meals, tapas include a wide variety of Spanish appetizers.
Legend has it that tapas were born when King Alfonso X took sick and mixed wine with small bites of food between meals. Once he recovered, the king ordered that no wine be served in Castile unless it was accompanied by something to eat.
Besides this royal tale, there's the theory that tapas first emerged as an energy boost for Spanish farmers between the big meals of the day. (The main meal, rich in fat, was typically such a chore to digest that a siesta had to be taken before workers could get back to the fields or the workshop.)
Sequoya, a recently opened restaurant and tapas bar, could also serve this purpose, nestled as it is at the tip of the industrial zone in Ramat Yishai. Overlooking fields of wheat and cotton on its second side, the restaurant is a Spanish delight.
The panoramic agricultural scene must have inspired Sequoya's designer, who's created a tranquil dining atmosphere with light green wallpaper and mahogany furniture that match the view.
The essence of "tapeo" (the art of eating tapas) is its ability to bring people together around the table for an informal meal. Here, too, Sequoya fits the bill, with large tables and numerous intimate booths perfect for families or large groups of friends.
The menu is divided into three types of tapas - vegetarian, seafood and meat - with nearly every dish offered in large and small portions.
We chose to assemble our meal from a selection of small dishes.
The Sequoya salad (NIS 27/45), though small, is a refreshing mix of fresh lettuce, roasted mushrooms, sun-dried cherry tomatoes, walnuts and Manchego cheese - a rich semi-firm cheese made with sheep's milk and full of small holes. Drizzled with a vinaigrette of red berries, the salad is characterized by its delicate sweetness.
A portion of seared tuna (NIS 27) came slightly overcooked, arriving on a bed of homemade chimichuri sauce and tiny cubes of persimmon.
For less than you'd pay at most restaurants, it's possible to try a spicy country-style chorizo sausage (NIS 23/49) with a side of black beans full of flavor.
The sliced sirloin (NIS 31), beautifully presented on a sizzling platter, is seasoned with three types of pepper and proved to be the big winner on our meal.
Sequoya, HaTzafzefa 2, Ramat Yishai, open Moday to Saturday from noon until the last guest leaves. Tel: (04) 953-5340 (not kosher)