We ran up to Bellingham again recently to do some errands on a dark and rainy day, and decided to have lunch at Flats Tapas Bar in Fairhaven. One of the things I’ve really liked about Flats is that their menu has remained very dependable over the years, and I had spent the morning planning out my order. Imagine my dismay when we discovered that they had just rewritten their menu a few weeks before, and nearly all my favorites were gone! Argh. Still, we sucked it up and tried two of the new dishes, and were pretty pleased.
The first (“Gambas”) was a saffron risotto topped with incredibly garlicky prawns in a spicy paprika-sherry sauce. It was amazing, and the prawns were fresh and tender.
The other dish (the “Mareo”) consisted of two grilled chicken skewers on a bed of black quinoa with pine nuts, raisins and serrano ham. The chicken, which was apparently marinated in cava, was tender but aggressively bland – I thought they might do better with a brine. The quinoa was also restrained in its seasoning. The ham was crispy and made a great contrast, but couldn’t quite carry the whole plate. We might have liked this dish better if it had been served before the prawns, but the quietness of its flavors really suffered in comparison.
The real problem with a small-plates place like this changing their menu is that we no longer know how much food to expect with each plate, so it will take some trial and error before we know how to build a really satisfying meal here again (these two dishes weren’t quite enough food for the two of us). The new chef here is doing some nice work, I hope that eventually I will have the same feel for her cooking as I had for the previous chef’s.