Sunday, January 2, 2011

Forte: A truly European tapas place

Upon entering Forte on my initial visit, my first thought was that it was very European. This wasn't just because it was dead at lunch, as most restaurants in Europe are, but also because of the eccentric decor, dark lounge-like feel, off-the-beaten-path location, and genuine hospitality. That, and the fully stocked bar featuring very cheap glasses of delicious European wines (this I would find out later).

I've over-ordered Forte at twice now, and though I can't say everything on the small plates menu is a winner, I can say I will keep coming back due to the aforementioned charming qualities and a few unique, inexpensive food highlights (sadly, my pictures don't do them justice).

The menu is broken down by European country (mostly Eastern) and their corresponding regional specialties. Under Russia, you won't find any caviar or borscht, but you will find adjarkski kachapurri, which goes down the hatch more easily than it rolls off the tongue ($6.99). This consists of a freshly baked bread loaf akin to a short, fat French baquette, that is hollowed in the center and stuffed with cheese, butter, and a raw egg. If I lost you at 'raw egg' then let me elaborate. The egg is mixed in table-side and is cooked by the heat of the bread, turning the dish into a protein-filled vegetarian friendly dish that will change your mind about Russian food. The flavor of the crusty bread combined with the egg and cheese reminded me of a quiche, yet this was unlike anything I've ever had. Extra (yet unnecessary) points for that!

The section from Spain features a variety of chorizo sausages, amongst other items. We had the chistora and bilbao (each $2.50) which were fantastically charred and of fantastic value. These rivaled the Polish links at Costco as far as sausage bargains go, and were much better in my opinion (sorry, mom).

One note selections included the chicken skewers ($3.25 each), sauteed shrimp ($6.50), and the Bulgarian shopski served in an adorable clay pot ($6.99, and much better at another place I'll review soon). Though there are a few minor flops, the thing I love most about this place is that you can try a lot of different foods you've probably never heard of, and, if you don't like them, you haven't spent enough to regret having given them a whirl.

Coming back to the wine, I ordered a glass of Spanish Cosechero Blanco, which I was told is located nowhere else in Vegas. Guess how much? $4.50!! The owner of the restaurant, who was our waitress on my second visit, and a gem in and of herself, offered to sell me a bottle at wholesale cost when I mentioned I liked it. So, I got a bottle for later that cost me just $8.20. That pretty much sealed the deal for me!

This is a place you have to be experimental and open-minded to go to, but if you appreciate other cultures and want to join me on my mission to support the mom and pops in Vegas, then you'll have no trouble mustering the strength to go to Forte.

4180 Rainbow. Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 220-3876

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