Late Anniversary Tapas

One doesn't go just anywhere for an anniversary dinner. Especially one that's been put off so long it's also a birthday dinner. For me, it means going to a place where words like goat cheese, portabello, and flan-of-the-day get mixed up in the same sentence.

A place like Meson Sabika, hiding back in its own little Shangri-la on an otherwise busy stretch of Naperville road. That we can feel so secluded in such a high traffic area is only one of the accomplishments of the place. They serve tapas in a mansion surrounded by gardens and water features, so I could work off the bittersweet chocolate flan smelling the roses.

Sabika's rooms are small, swelling the noise level on a crowded night, but the pure intimacy they give offsets that. On said anniversary visit we were, sadly, regaled with several high-volume stories of a drunken couple's last even-more-drunken escapade. Stories best left untold, particularly when they involve unappetizing detail just as that chocolate is about to hit my lips. In the future, I'll go at less than prime time.

My favorites: Setas Salvajes (wild mushrooms, Manchego cheese , pine nuts, romaine hearts) and Queso de Cabra (baked goat cheese with pesto garlic bread). And flan. Any flan. It really doesn't matter.

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