For those of you old enough to remember the classic movie “EL CID” starring Charlton Heston, a visit to El Cid restaurant in Silver Lake is at the very least a nostalgic experience. The restaurant has been around forever and the building itself, even longer. We went on a bitterly cold night to check out the Flamenco Show and try the revamped menu created by brand new chef Olivia Hernandez. It was too cold to check out the patio area, but one can imagine that in Summer it must be jumping.
Chef Hernandez arrived in November and has added a few new things to the Spanish influenced menu. These include the Artichoke and Boursin Cheese Beignets ($7) and Cordero Al Azafran ($12). The former is an artichoke sprinkled with Spice Station’s sweet onion sugar dust, and the latter consists of a couple of fire grilled lamb chops served with a white wine and saffron cream sauce.
What also should be tried is the Portobello Relleno ($11), mushrooms filled with a Manchego cheese and served w/shallots and parsley drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Also surprisingly new to the menu is Ceviche ($13), that offers a choice of Langostino, Lobster, or crab. Also any visit to a Spanish restaurant has to include trying out the Paella, a dish that even the novice gourmet will associate with Spanish cuisine. The El Cid version ($21) comes with rice, saffron, chorizo, chicken, shrimp, mussels and clams.
As for drinks at El Cid, you might as well go for a pitcher of the House Sangria which they have been serving for fifty years. Nice and strong, it is a perfect complement for the lively Flamenco dinner show that runs every Friday through Sunday. Energetic and full of excellent music and dancing, you might also want to stick around for the live rock bands that take place on a Saturday night following the Flamenco show. In reality the newer team and owners are experimenting with innovations, without alienating the regulars, many of whom have been coming here for fifty years.
Staying with the drinks, they have an interesting range of signature cocktails all priced at a low $10. I did not try any of these this time around as the Sangria was certainly sufficient for our needs, but a couple of the cocktails jumped out of the drinks menu. That would be the Maple Pumkintini (Stoli vodka w/maple pumpkin butter and the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Margarita w/strawberry vanilla bean preserves from Laura Ann Jams.