In October of 2008 four of us dined at Suba... expecting traditional Tapas. The restaurant is located above (in the same building) Mangia Qui and it’s a rather tiny space. Although the room is very tastefully decorated, I can’t imagine what it would be like to get a table there during their busy times or even during their hours of entertainment.
The service was typical. We are familiar with the experience of Tapas, so our party of four was set to order our eight dishes to share along with some sangria. Our waitress talked us out of ordering things all at once and into ordering our Tapas in phases. After some hesitation we agreed. When our first two (Seviche & One other) Tapas were brought out we were taken aback at their size. Normal seafood Tapas consist of at least four or more of each piece, such as four scallops or four shrimp. These Tapas had only one serving. We had to slice the already tiny scallop into four pieces so that everyone in our party could enjoy it. That seemed to be the theme of the night. No matter what was brought out... the two half slices of grilled bread, their pathetic imitation of Patatas Bravas (which they diced – again tiny slices – instead of wedged potatoes), or any of the other Tapas we ordered, everything was served in extremely minute portions. I cannot put into words how insignificant these portions were compared to traditional tapas, especially for the price. Suba... also has no specials on Tapas, such as half price happy hour Tapas.
The downside of ordering our Tapas in phases meant that our Tapas experience was extremely drawn out. We spent far more time sitting and waiting for our food than we anticipated. We understand the Tapas experience is social dining, but not hours of waiting and minuets of actually consuming food. The long drawn out spaces between our Tapas servings only made our hunger grow. Then the fact that these miniscule Tapas were coming from the kitchen each time only made matters worse. If there was a space between your servings in a traditional Tapas restaurant, you’d have the complimentary bread at your table to pass the time. Here we were charge $6.00 for two half slices of toasted bread. We almost got to the point, during the waiting portion, between Tapas Order Number 4 and Tapas Order Number 5, where we were considering ordering another serving of $6.00 half slices... after all what’s another $6.00 on top of our already $150.00 bill?
The prices were definitely ridiculous for a restaurant in downtown Harrisburg, PA. One pitcher of Sangria, which is a must when you are out for Tapas, was $38.00. The Sangria was good quality Sangria, but never have I paid more than $28.00 for one pitcher of Sangria – and that was a full size pitcher compared to this tiny pitcher of Sangria. The “pitcher” of Sangria only served about three and a half glasses, which meant for our party of four we needed two pitchers.
The positives of this restaurant are its decor, and everything from the Suba... kitchen was tasty. However, the downside was that these delicious tiny Tapas left us wanting more. It seemed that the restaurant was more concerned with its ambience and the kitchen with its inventive plate presentations than the quality of their Tapas and overall satisfaction of their customers. My suggestion to Suba... would be to research the history of Tapas and commit more to tradition rather than innovation by enlarging their Tapas portions just a tad, so that guests don’t leave with their stomachs no more filled than when they arrived. In my opinion, Harrisburg’s attempt to catch onto the popularity of Tapas is pretty poor. The restaurant has a lot of potential, but seems to be lacking in commitment to the tradition of Tapas. If you are looking for a traditional Tapas restaurant in the Harrisburg area, this place is not for you. Overall, I would not recommend this restaurant to others.
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