Tonight, the self-proclaimed "Dining Club" (CL, JK, JC, EC, AW, LS, CC, and I) went to Mas, a tapas bar in Middleofnowhere, Charlottesville. Mas gets good reviews when it comes to food and consistently bad reviews when it comes to service. Not to mention the owner doesn't know how is intarweb formed? No, but really. He was involved in a huge online saga with site owner of Charlottesville-dining.com (a great site for Cvillers!!). See the whole thing here. Tomas seems like a douchebag (excuse my français).
Let me begin with saying that I had a very bad first impression of Mas even before I got there. I called to ask if they had a "call ahead" option (giving the place a heads up about your party and possibly putting you on the wait list). The guy answered with all kinds of noise in the background, asked me to repeat myself literally over 3-4 times (I understand you're standing behind the bar and it's loud, but don't give me the 'tude like it's my fault), and snapped back: "WHY does everyone ask me that?! IT'S THE SAME THING AS A RESERVATION! No, we don't do call aheads." Then I dared to ask him if a gratuity was automatically added for parties of a certain number. He curtly replied with, "Yeah, there's an autograt. *click*."
And so went our conversation. Thank goodness we had a pretty nice server, though. She was attentive and servers came around to refill our glasses often.
We were seated at the outside patio, which was full of tables and gigantic orange parasols. The weather was quite warm and breezy, which was awesome! I never checked out the inside, but from what I could see, it was dimly lit with low tables and a bar.
Tapas come in two portions: tapas (for about 2 people) and raciones (for about 3-4 people). We went with the tapas portions in order to try a larger variety. It took a while for all the tapas to hit the table, but everything was served hot. Meats came last. We ordered 15 tapas and shared (7 people total). DELICIOUS complimentary olives began the journey.
Photos by the lovely LS ;)
This is the point where JC asked, "So... Where are we eating for dinner?" Obviously none of us were full.
The sun started to set and soon we were sitting in the dark, save for one lit streetlight across the restaurant. For some reason, the festive Christmas lights strung across the outside of Mas weren't on, so patrons were left sitting in the dark trying to figure out what exactly they were forking into their mouths. No pictures of the last two tapas for this reason.
Croquetas de jamón: applewood ham, Yukon Gold potatoes, and Manchego cheese pan-fried with crème fraîche. I thought these were ehhhh. Hot, creamy and hammy, but I thought it was a little too mushy. LS liked this one a lot.
EC: It's alright, but it's pretty... normal.
LS: I like normal.
(L doesn't like things like undercooked beef, blahblah. hehe)
Pecho de pato chamuscando: pan-seared duck breast (medium rare) w/ apricot and candied ginger glaze. The duck was definitely cooked a lot more than "medium rare." The meat was too dry and chewy. I'd say it was pretty much cooked all the way, but I couldn't tell because it was too dark out. We didn't even know we were eating sauteed apricot slices, so we thought we were eating strange, overly tangy and sweet caramelized onions. I do like the duck/apricot paring. I really wanted the duck breast to be a lot rarer. and YUMMMM for duck fat! I was lucky enough to get an end piece with lots of delicious fat. Hehe.
I like that Mas uses fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. This allows for simplicity in dishes, or better flavor in more complex ones. The menu has so much variety and lots of vegetarian options too. The cheeses and other specialties are great and hard to find. But I think some tapas had so much potential that wasn't being showcased! Still a great, "hip" place to try out here in lil ole Charlottesville, especially if you're part of the 21+ crowd.
Tapas are small portions, almost like appetizers, that are usually eaten leisurely with a drink (sangria, cocktails, wine, etc). We knew we probably wouldn't be full (especially with the broke student's budget), but a lot of us wanted to try the place out anyway. We ended up bouncin to Wendy's afterwards for some frosties and burgers (GOURMET!!!!).
Thanks for reading, and thanks to the Dining Club for making this such a great experience. Hopefully there will be many more outings in the coming years :D
P.S. CL would like me to announce that he found a strand of hair in his glass of water ("DOCUMENT THIS!" he exclaimed), and one of the servers kept brushing up against his shoulder every time she passed. Haw haw.
501 Monticello Road, Charlottesville
No reservations or call-aheads
Random food fact: The Popsicle was invented by an 11 year who kept it secret for 18 years.
The inventor was Frank Epperson who, in 1905, left a mixture of powdered soda and water out on the porch, which contained a stir stick. That night, temperatures in San Francisco reached record low temperature. When he woke the next morning, he discovered that it had frozen to the stir stick, creating a fruit flavored ice treat that he named the epsicle. 18 years later he patented it and called it the Popsicle.