Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Despana, on Broome just west of Cleveland Place in Soho, is a small Spanish gourmet grocer and deli which also sells sandwiches and Spanish pastries. I went there to try their vegetarian sandwich, sandwich -- a bocadillo on Sullivan St. bakery ciabatta, and filled with mixed greens, white asparagus, tomatoes, olives, aioli, and, for an extra $0.50 (the sandwich is normally $8.00), some manchego cheese.

Unfortunately, this sandwich did not do it for me. The ingredients were not bold enough or flavorful enough to make it go beyond the sum of its somewhat humdrum parts. The bread was good, but I already knew that.

I also had churros and hot chocolate for dessert. These are two small churros, each about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of a normal churro you might buy at a concession stand. They are also much denser and chewier. I found them good but not bursting with flavor. I liked the hot chocolate all right, but it is clearly not a ganache-based hot chocolate -- it used cocoa powder, and did not seem to have been completely mixed (I got a couple of "bits" of cocoa or something in it).

Nevertheless, the grocery part of Despana impresses me a lot more. They take the time to put in small samples of several of their products, including varieties of honey, vinegar, olive oil, and Spanish salsa, that you can taste on small tearings of bread they thoughtfully provide. These were without exception tasty products. That's where Despana has focused its attention, and it shows.

Stars: 3/5

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