Tannins Wine Bar and Lounge
27211 Ortega Highway, Unit C
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Tannins has never really been on my radar. I had bought a Groupon, and had almost forgotten to use it. I got the email telling me my deal was about to expire, and I did not want to waste the money, so I told Katie we had to get down there. She agreed readily, and like the swallows, we were returning to Capistrano.
Tannins is located on the opposite side of the freeway from the mission in San Juan. The menu is straight forward Italian. The vibe here is comfortable, without being too much like a dive. We arrived at seven on a Wednesday night. The restaurant was busy and loud. Let's hope all of these people were here for the great food.
First stop on our food tour of Tannins is the bread basket that was presented to our table. I always like when they serve more than one kind of bread in a basket, as was the case here. They gave us a plain Italian bread, which was accompanied by some sort of olive spread. I am not much into olives, but the spread had a subtle olive flavor and it was very creamy. They also supplied us with a garlic/cheese bread which was very flavorful. If the bread on this one would have been a little more fresher, this would have been a home run, but we will rule it a stand up double. Not bad for a bread basket.
Katie spotted the Tannins Salad on the menu and immediately gravitated towards it. This salad combined mixed greens with tomatoes, garbanzo beans, capers, green onions, and avocado, all with a poppy seed dressing. She felt the capers and avocado added a different texture to the salad, and she was pretty happy with the poppy seed dressing.
Like Katie almost always trying a shrimp dish, I almost always go with a Caesar Salad, and that was the case here. This is your basic Caesar, but the part of this salad that stood out for me was the coarsely chopped Parmesan cheese served with this. It was grated thicker than usual, and that was a good thing. This had just the right amount of dressing for my taste, but the salad could have been served a little colder.
Of course, after I call out Katie for always getting shrimp, she throws us a curve ball and gets the Lobster Ravioli. Katie called this dish, "fresh and delicious". She felt there was abundant lobster here, without being too over powering. The ravioli I had was pretty good, the pasta was cooked well. Katie also praised the spinach that was served as a side item with this.
I veered from my norm as well, when I had the Veal Marsala. The veal was served in a Marsala wine sauce, with mushrooms, and topped with basil. I felt this $18 dish should have been a little bit bigger. Also the veal was not as tender as I think it should have been. Unfortunately, the sauce and veggies out shined the veal here.
Katie and I split two desserts at Tannins. My choice was the Carrot Cake. This cake had a very good icing, but the cake portion of this was more on the dry side. Katie chose the Cannoli. We both agreed that this was not the best cannoli we had ever had. The chocolate sauce was good over this, but the outer shell of the cannoli was very tough, and the inside was not much better.
Tannins was an okay choice for dinner. I don't think we would seek this place out, but if they offered another Groupon I might consider getting one. The service the night we were here was spotty at best. Our waitress was very slow, not just with our table, but with others as well. Drink refills were pretty close to non-existent. The food was okay, not great. The meal peaked with the bread basket and salads, and went down from there.
Out of five wineries, (not only because tannins are found in wine, but also because the first winery in California was in San Juan Capistrano), five being best to zero being worst, Tannins gets 2.5 wineries.
For more information on Tannins, click here: http://tanninsrestaurant.com/index.html