Monday, December 7, 2009

A Bit of Sunny Spain Right Here in Brookline

Taberna de Haro is a great little place in Brookline that you might drive by everyday and hardly think about. It's situated on Beacon Street on the inbound side across from the St. Mary's Stop on the Green Line. I can't imagine it seats more than about 40 guests at capacity, and in the summer, it boasts a lovely patio in front that might double it's guest potential to about 80 crammed to the gills!

I've been eating at Taberna de Haro for about 5 years now, visiting a few times a year. My only regret is that I don't eat there more frequently. Each meal has been more delicious than the last and the staff has always treated me and my dining companions with the utmost gracious sense of hospitality. The proprietor, Deborah Hansen, can often be found acting as maitre d', sommelier, or directly on the line of fire cooking up a storm as chef in Taberna's open kitchen. I love watching the activity in the restaurant once things pick up to full speed ahead. Paellas and game go in and out of the brick oven and Sherry and Sangria are poured freely for thirsty patrons.

The menu seems to change seasonally reflecting what's fresh and local. I've eaten delicious roasted goat leg, squid ink paella, plates of cured meats and house-smoked fish, and shrimp roasted with plenty of garlic to name of a few of my favorite dishes. There are always plenty of classics to pick from as well as some dishes that might be a little more off the beaten path for the average American diner. I've never ordered anything I didn't like. The food is consistently tasty and prepared in a simple, honest, and straight-forward manner that would charm even the most dour gourmet.

Deborah's skill as a sommelier is certainly not to be overlooked. If I recall correctly, she received her sommelier training in Spain, and her knowledge of Spanish wine is unparalleled in Boston. The wine list offers only Spanish selections, some expected such as Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and AlbariƱo from Galicia, but I have also sampled some unusual things at Taberna like "Casta Diva" Moscatel, a vintage Cava by Segura Viudas, and various wines from Majorca at a tasting dinner. I could spend hours reading over the personal tasting notes the she includes for every bottle listed in her extensive inventory. There's also an astonishing array of Sherry to chose from and she, or her staff, will personally help you find the best one to go with your meal if you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of options.

I've recommended the restaurant countless times and taken several of my "industry" friends there. No one has ever left the place less than fully satisfied. Check out Taberna de Haro for an amazing experience that might make you feel as though you've just vacationed in Spain even in the dead of Boston's long and gray winter.

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