In The Woodlands is an interesting bar and eatery, 1252 Tapas.Located at the North Commons outdoor Mall is the retail district known as Market Street. 1252 offers patio seating overlooking Central Park and across to the Cinemark theater and most notably, the valet parking stand. Why mention something as common as a valet stand? The cars. The evening hours, especially during nice weather weekends brings in some very nice automobiles, from exotic to luxurious the area is a fun place for car buffs and casual enthusiasts alike. This particular event was the announcement of Chef Wes Tyler, the new executive Chef at 1252 Tapas, Market Street. Wes Taylor assumed lead in the 1252 kitchen in early February 2014 and his experience in French, Cajun, Asian, Italian has lead him to the well-known Spanish Restaurant in The Woodlands. Chef Taylor is a graduate of the Sullivan University Culinary Arts program in Louisville, Kentucky ~2004.
This VIP Meet & Greet at 1252 included seven courses of some very interesting dishes prepared by Chef Tyler along with a selection of recently debuted Spanish Wines.
(Four) Appetizers : Seafood Gazpacho, Rabbit Empanada, Steamed Clams & Mussels, and a Goat Cheese Caprese.
(Three) Main Course items: Filet de Leon, and three different varieties of Paella.and for dessert, homemade Strawberry - Chocolate Chip Ice Cream that was really good.
Up first was the Seafood Gazpacho, a light, tomato soup with cucumber, red pepper and onion, served cold & topped with Ceviche (also spelled cebiche, or seviche). This dish might appeal to Sushi fans as it is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with or chili peppers. He said that it was light and tasty with a crisp edge that was fresh and pleasing to the palate.
Next up was the Rabbit Empanada consisting of herbed rabbit, tetilla cheese, and aioli. Most all of us are aware of having rabbit as a dish, not so many of us eaten it. Tetilla Cheese is known for it's creamy texture, and mild smell / taste and the Galacian treat was a great choice. The word Empanada comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. He said as this was my first time to eat rabbit, I was a little nervous at the prospect but, pleasantly surprised after having done so.
Steamed Clams & Mussels
To be honest, neither of us ever eat Steamed Clams or Mussels (steamed or otherwise) so this part was a little tough. We both sampled one of each and he said that they were better than expected but, he has no plans to try them again in the future.
Goat Cheese Caprese
The main dishes consisted of a very tasty if not over-cooked fillet wrapped around a mixture valdeon, brie, tomatoes, onion and bacon. The side of patatas bravas and sweet, honey cava sauce had an interesting spicy side to them creating an overall excellent blend of flavors.
The three paella dishes were served up buffet style on the bar and while the presentation was nice, the flavor was underwhelming. The saffron rice itself was dry and the meats were a little over-cooked for my taste. The King Prawn were initially quite tasty but all I could taste was salt about halfway through it. I passed on the mussels and clams and there is just something about Octopus... maybe it's the tentacles. I did try a squid but they were fishy tasting which pretty much brings my appetite to a halt.
Three large, buffet style servings of Paella on the bar.
From left to right: Meat (Chicken, Beef & Chorizo); Seafood (Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Octopus, & Crawfish); Seafood (Mussels, Crawfish and Shrimp)
Strawberry - Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Sadly, we were not impressed with the overall flavors. The food was different, even unique maybe, but it falls short of spectacular. Expectations were for more flavorful items or maybe someone with a tast for food with a Spanish flair. In our experience, it seems like Texan versions of foreign foods are usually more exciting than the authentic versions.