Tango Restaurant Tapas and Lounge - Kamloops, BC
**UPDATE: 2011** The owners of Tango has now transformed the former Tango space into what is now called Fiesta Mexicana Restaurante. Different menu, same people.
Tango is located in, more or less, an industrial park off of Notre Dame Drive. The exterior is non-descript, and it would very easy to miss if you weren’t specifically looking for it, like we were tonight, Amazing Race styles. Clutching tickets to see the Western Canada Theater presentation of Thunderstick at 8pm, we stopped in at Tango for some pre-theatre dining. The restaurant is long and narrow with bar seating on the right, and booths and tables on the left. Dark woods, high ceilings, open kitchen. The space had a sports-lounge feel to it; this maybe due to the Canucks/Kings season opener being projected onto a huge fabric screen at the back of the restaurant.
The man in charge let us know that they are in the midst of redesigning their menu. The menu you find on their website is getting an overhaul and should be available in the New Year. In the mean time, they are experimenting with "fresh sheets" to test out possible new entries to the revamped menu. The food between both old and 'fresh' menus run the gamut of flavours: from pasta, steak and seafood to butter chicken, spring rolls, paella and tacos. I know people like to have options, but when I see a menu with no focus it makes me a little nervous.
*Please forgive the poor, poor quality photos. Out of respect for fellow diners, I try to be discreet. It was dark. I hate using flash in a restaurant. It's too harsh; also I can feel the searing cut-eye from the other patrons. Since packing a diffuser with me is out of the question I will have to settle with terribly blown out pics. Argh.
Warm runny cheese and fruit is such a great combo. A little goes a long way as we were able to share the little round of brie between us. I couldn't find any hints of garlic or basil, but I was content none the less. The brie is accompanied with crostini, but if you’re expecting crostini you won’t get it. The vehicle to get the brie in my mouth wasn’t toasted enough to be crostini. It was very soft and fluffy… well, like bread. The shredded pear and balsamic vinegar added a nice texture and balanced out the flavours. There was also a mysterious mango-ish couli that garnished the plate, which could be used to give each bite a bit more sweetness if you needed it.
Crab Cakes ($15.00)
The crab cakes had a really nice mild flavor with a little spice that may have come from the chipotle aioli. The panko crust was light, but still had a nice crunch. The crab meat was not flakey; it was more coarse pate-ish in texture. This was a bit strange to me, but the other half of the table enjoyed the cake as is. Overall the flavor of the crab was solid.
Prosciutto Wrapped Beef Tenderloin ($25.00)
The beef tenderloin smelled great when it came to the table. The meat was wrapped with prosciutto and topped with blue cheese. Wow, dry cured ham and pungent moldy cheese, that’s a lot of aggressive flavours together. I only tasted a bite or two of this and surprisingly the flavours did not overwhelm each other. Don’t get me wrong the flavours were clearly in your face, but worked robustly together. The beef was tender, not supple like the beef we enjoyed at madisen’s, but nicely succulent and very moist. The penne pasta was agreeably al dente, and helped temper the saltiness of the prosciutto.
Sweet and Sour Pork Riblets ($12.00)
I loved the thickness of the yam frites. Too often I’ve had yam fries that are the very skinny almost shoe string variety. The frites at Tango were thick enough that I was able to taste the yam. The fries were crackly crisp on the exterior with a soft and sweet inside. I liked them on their own without the aioli dip. The pork riblets were generally moist and tender; there were some dry bits of pork here and there. The riblets were not drenched in the house sweet and sour, but just a generous slathering. I enjoyed the sauce; it was more sweet than sour without being sticky.
Banana Fritters ($8.00)
We had read that Tango makes their own ice-cream so we wanted to try their dessert offerings. We were informed that their house made ice-cream was no longer available. We chose to share a dessert and went for the Banana Fritters. I don’t have that much of a sweet tooth and I really appreciate desserts that are not stickly ickly sweet. When the bananas hit the table it smelled like warm cinnamon toast. The very warm bananas wore a crunchy coating of brown sugar and cinnamon, poised atop a mound of cold vanilla ice-cream. The dessert was both hot and cold; crunchy and soft in my mouth. I really enjoyed the not too sweet ending to our dinner.
Tango puts a solid effort into the food they produce. The value is very good at Tango as the food is sound, and the portions are generous. We were able to proficiently share all three courses and left happy and full. I am delighted to hear they are in the process of revitalizing their current menu. I’m hoping they will tighten up the selections to really showcase the best that their kitchen has to offer. I can’t help but notice their current menu selections are quite similar to the offerings from other establishments such as ORA Restaurant Lounge. I very much look forward to coming back and trying their new menu. Another visit to come...