These are archived reviews of Aioli Bodega Española from 2006. For more recent comments, please visit the entry.
2006-03-03 11:21:59 I ate there on Tuesday night and I liked it. Service was a bit slow and chaotic (but they're new and still getting organized), staff was friendly and the food was good. Portions were just right and their wine selection is awesome. I think its a great place for a date. —KarthikRam
2006-03-10 20:03:30 Just got back from the restaurant. The food was pretty decent, I especially like the tuna & spinach with a sherry & vinegar sauce and the pork braised with raisins. The portabella mushrooms were okay, but a bit underwhelming as was the calamari and lemon. The appetizer tortillas tres colores was also pretty good. The service was decent and the food was timed well. The only thing I could say that was poor was the hanging copper wires with the glasses holding candles (decor). It's a strange thing to pick up on, but it bugged me. —AlvinTsao
2006-03-16 21:42:11 We ate there on March 9 and it was very good. Perfect atmosphere, decent prices, and awesome tapas. Definitely reminded me of being back in Spain again. —MonicaWilliams
2006-03-24 19:14:11 Just ate there. The lentil soup was very good but most everything else was disappointing. The meat bourek was basically a Pillsbury pastry crust stuffed with plain, browned ground beef, no seasoning at all. And the "baby chorizo" were as bland as the cheapest hot dog, I've had little smokies with more taste. The sauce in the Pollo Andaluz had good flavor but the chicken wasn't tender at all. The atmosphere was pretty nice but the brown butcher paper on top of burlap for the table covers probably saves money on linen cleaning but seems to cheapen the decor. —WeezyTheDog
2006-04-01 17:00:58 This is a place to get a drink, grab a dessert, or sit at the bar, but I wouldn't recommend it for dinner, especially if you have a large party. We weren't seated until 45 minutes after our reservation. The tapas were mixed in quality, and compared to most San Francisco tapas places, the portions were small and the prices expensive. I must have eaten 3-4 loaves of bread to keep the tab down. The complimentary chick-pea aoili spread was better than the average Davis hummus, the lamb brochettes were excellent, the portobello mushrooms were lackluster, the mussels were about average, the lamb sausage went well with its spicy sauce, the shark was interesting but not especially noteworthy, the cold mushrooms were overspiced and dull, and the tortilla tres colores was great but tiny. The desserts were mostly excellent, with one of the best flans we'd ever eaten, a rich chocolate mousse with unpleasantly tough blueberries, a flavorful wine infused sponge cake, and an appealing creme-brulee-like special. The service was prompt, but we were displeased with the automatic 20% gratuity for our party of 9, especially since they included 20% of our $135 in wine.
- My original comments were made when the restaurant had just opened. I returned here for drinks in November 2006, and had a much more pleasant experience. With the exception of the cheapest one, they ports are all very good. The friendly owner checked to make sure we were enjoying ourselves, and was eager to tell us all about our wine selections. —CraigBrozinsky
2006-04-11 01:16:13 Based on an enjoyable meal some months ago at the Sacramento Aioli, my wife wanted to try the Davis one for her birthday tonight. I think my wife would say she had another enjoyable meal, but my impression is mixed. Our party of 7 (2 families including 3 kids) was seated promptly (but what would you expect for a Monday?). Our waiter seemed hasty and annoyed that we did not want to order drinks right away but instead wanted to look over the wine list. Since it was a birthday celebration, we wanted a sparkling wine like cava, all of which are listed on the menu, only a few correctly, as "Champagnes." When one of our party wanted to verify that our choice was indeed a cava, the waiter did not seem to understand the word. He brought special chilled glasses for the cava, a nice touch, but then poured it much too rapidly as if he were filling water glasses.
As for the starters, the lentil soup was well received, except for too much salt, but the green salad with vinegarette was tasteless: the greens seem to have come from a Safeway salad bag (and a small number of them were rotten) and the dressing was practically nonexistent. Among the tapas we tried, the most flavorful was the mahi tuna with spinach. We got chicken skewers for the kids, but they were turned off by the sauce (so the adults got to eat them). Instead the kids finished off 4 plates of anchovies and 2 of olives, plus very good bread. I enjoyed the stuffed clams with lots of garlic and the 2 types of squid tapas we got were also good.
One question: tapas are supposed to be small dishes, so why does Aioli serve them on such large plates? We quickly ran out of room on our table and spent considerable time rearranging and stacking needlessly large plates. Alerted by the comment of CraigBrozinsky above, I was not totally surprised to see a 20% gratuity added to our check, but I had thought that maybe 10-year old kids might not be counted toward what I was told is their trigger point of 6 guests in a party (a notice in the menu might prepare one for the sticker shock). When I asked our waiter for clarification and pointed out that we were being required to tip on the tax as well, he recalculated the tab without the 20% (even though we told him it was not necessary and it was not our point) and presented it back to us saying "you can tip me nothing if you want to." This guy obviously has a great future as a server. Like suckers we tipped him about what the original check required, but I am certainly not going to beat a path back to the Aioli door the next time we want to have a nice meal in Davis. —RichardBreedon
I have not eaten there yet. I tried. One of my sisters turned 50 this week. When I called to try to make a reservation for 25 friends and family about 3 weeks ago, I was told that the restaurant was not ready to book such a large group. I told him that I was a Cafe California regular and we always just used the back room, we would keep the celebration to 2 hours so they could have an additional seating after we left. I told him that we could order all of the food in advance and have people just order their drinks from the bar, thus ensuring that we spend a lot of money. He told me that he would do it mid-week but not on a weekend night - that he wasn't ready and turned me away. So we went elsewhere. From what I am reading above and my experience, this restaurant doesn't like groups larger than 4 people. It is sooooo different from Cafe California, where impromptu gatherings of up to 20 people would push tables together and eat and order drinks from the bar and have fun. —SharlaDaly
2006-04-30 02:58:43 My date and I had to wait a quite a while to get a table, even though we had reservations. The portions are very inconsistent! I don't know why the aceitunas variadas (cured olives) came with such a huge spoon while the legumbres a la parilla (grilled veg), which was as delightful as the sauces it came with (aioli and olive tapenade), came with no utensil. The bavette de boeuf (skirt steak) melted in my mouth, but were on the bland side, while the tiburon picado (sauteed shark) was delicious with the beurre blanc sauce with capers- too bad we got only six dinky little pieces of it. The tortilla tres colores were my favorite, but they tasted more like potatoes and onions than anything else. Finally, the pastel de almendras (almond cake) was sticky, sweet, and yummy, but nothing to write home about, and the chocolate con accento frances (chocolate mousse) is the best mousse I have ever tasted- not overpoweringly sweet, so you can really taste the chocolate. The only other berries in that dessert is blueberries, and the strawberry sauce was a tad scant. I was annoyed that the plates are so huge and the paper table covers were odd, but the ambience and decore were great, the servers were friendly, and they worked well even though it was a busy night tonight. Thom the waiter sure knows his wines! The Spanish cava is light, sweet, fruity, and refreshing. —JennaChan
2006-05-14 17:23:23 We had a good time and a nice dinner. We were seated before our reservation time, the service was attentive. Our tapas came out one or two at a time, allowing us to enjoy the great variety of flavors. We shared 5 tapas between 2 people, which made for a great many flavors and plenty of food. Desserts were also great! The wine list is diverse with some good picks. —AcrZpu
2006-07-20 21:07:34 I've had food there on a number of occassions and found the menu options a refreshing change from most others offered in downtown. If you are looking for something different and good in downtown Davis, give it a try. —ChristopherMckenzie
2006-08-02 19:25:21 Excellent experience! The Spanish waiter and owner are extremely friendly and enhanced the evening. The menu has a wide variety but the entrees are a tad expensive. If you go as a couple, I don't suggest getting the Paella because they are large enough for 2 people and you're better off trying a wider selection of flavors. Besides, I'm not entirely convinced that the mussels in the paella were fresh. The bread was excellent (hot and crispy) and the bread spread is delicious. The desserts (almond cake and the flan) were both excellent and very flavorful. The water served here is filtered and the take home boxes have the item's name calligraphied onto them. Those two small things certainly made the evening very, very enjoyable even if the paella was only average. —LiRic
2006-08-04 20:28:03 Such an amazing improvement over what used to be in its spot. Bravo! Good value for the quality. —JaimeRaba
2006-08-20 14:24:11 Service left nothing to complain about. Food was pretty good- portions, even for tapas, were very small. would recommend the little lamb sausages in red wine. Bread very good. Tapas selection very limited. Wine list seemed...OK. Don't know what corkage fee is or anything...but you can buy a very nice bottle of tempranillo for <$10 at the co-op which is FAR superior than what I had for $7.50 a glass there. overall: pretty good for Davis standards, but don't go there expecting some great tapas or super-special dining experience, you know? —DianaChristofersen
2006-09-23 02:57:03 Took a date here recently. It was definitely a cute restaurant. It took about 5 minutes for the host to notice us (a BIG negative), but once we got seated the service was pretty good. The decor was very Spanish and the lighting was just about perfect. As for the food it was amazingly ordinary. We ordered the portabella mushrooms in garlic and sherry wine and the bourek de casa. With chocolate truffles in a white chocolate sauce for dessert. All three were alright, just bland and not quite what you'd expect from a place like this. Still, the ambience was a plus and I got out of there paying only $26 (including tip) so it wasn't all bad. I honestly can't see myself coming back here on my own, but I might take a date here again. —SteveKent
"2006-10-21 02:58" My own opinion and feel free to try it out yourself but the food was horrible— I've eaten tons of tapas not only in Spain (having lived there) but also in the US and I would NEVER EVER eat here again. The tortilla was awful; i could have made it better myself! Plus the patatas bravas were cold, even though they are supposed to be a hot dish— and had a sour taste to them. To my knowledge, they are supposed to be in a spicy red sauce, not a sour, gone-bad taste. The beef and tuna were bad as well, the tuna was poor quality. It was overly chewy and thick since it was flash-fried I presume. The only thing good about this place was the service. I'm horrified that this place could hail themselves as having tapas but what I had there definetley was NOT tapas. Again, this is my own opinion, having had lots of tapas before and if you like sub-par food that shouldn't call itself Spanish food, then by all means, have fun. However, you're better off eating elsewhere.
2006-11-13 19:12:18 I tried to celebrate my birthday with my family and my roommates family Saturday 11-11-06 and it was horrible. We had RESERVATIONS and were not sat until 30 MINUTES after our reservation time. Once seated our waiter seemed annoyed to even have to take our order. We were so outraged we requested a new waiter. The new waiter was good, but the food was not worth the wait. It wasnt bad, just not great after such a bad start. We will not be going back. —AshleyDunleavy