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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Despite having an offensively long domain name, La Paella restaurant in Norwalk was a pleasant excursion. We started the evening with some of the complementary bread, which seemed to be a decent (though not great) sourdough of some sort, sliced thick and toasted. The olive oil they provided at the table was bland and uninteresting, probably some commercial crap from a supermarket or food supply store.

Got better from there though; we started with blood sausage, which was halved and grilled till the outside was quite burned; I found it a perfect combination of texture and flavor, and was quite pleased. The ceviche was marvelously tender and not at all overcured and tough like many careless examples I come across. It featured butterfly-cut shrimp, scallops, and squid, and all were fresh and delicious. Finished up with some fresh sardines, which were grilled; I found them pleasant, but given the hassle of picking the fish off the bones, I’d rather have fresh trout in terms of flavor and texture, and I’d argue it a superior experience. Nice to try though; again, was cooked perfectly and despite their diminutive size came to the table still warm.

From here, we shared “Paella negra,” a generous in-pan portion of shrimp, squid, mussels, cockles, scallops and rice with a fabulously earthy and rich black squid-ink sauce. This was punctuated visually by the occasional fresh green pea to make it an experience for the senses. At first I found it a little bland, literally needing a dash of salt (none was on the table) but over time the richness and sweetness seemed to develop, and I no longer felt the need. Again, perfectly cooked, though a dash of heat or salt probably would have pushed it into the realm of perfection rather than just excellence.

Service was spotty; our drink server spoke virtually no English, and was of little assistance; glasses often stayed unfilled for periods of five to ten minutes. Despite being mostly empty, we only saw our water when a new dish was ready, and had a somewhat difficult time getting the bill towards the end. Sensitive diners should note that the restaurant is not air conditioned, and while they do eventually open the front windows, it could hardly be described as a pleasant temperature-wise.