Last year it seemed our local food joints lining our downtown core were closing faster than they were coming in. This left some Kingstonians a tad concerned when franchises, in particular Milestones and Jack Astor’s, moved in and started eating up the potential of our independent restaurants. In a town that appears to thrive on our local establishments, it was a bit unnerving last year around this time when four of our local eateries – Zappa’s, The Pasta Shelf (downtown location), Aroma and Tango shut their doors.
Luckily – Tango reopened with quite the facelift as Tango Nuevo (Nuevo is Spanish for ‘new’) this past summer. Under the careful management of Gokhan Cifci, Tango Nuevo has comfortably reclaimed its position on King Street, and judging by the full house on weekend evenings and weeknights, us Kingston folk are cozying up to the revamped warm and inviting atmosphere Tango Nuevo has to offer.
I’ll admit I have been back to Tango Nuevo again and again – nestling up in a corner nook with wine and a cheese plate accompanied with some girl chats is quite high on my list of things I enjoy, and this little gem on King St. allows me to do just that. Tango Nuevo is refreshing to the Ktown scene as it offers a unique experience that is bound to differ from a usual dinner night out on the town. Rather than ordering a meal, you’re tempted with a menu full of tapas prepared with locally grown and seasonal fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese in a setting lined with exposed limestone, rustic tables as soon as you walk in, and a couple of alcoves for some private seating.
As a self-proclaimed cheese snob, I typically begin with a cheese plate – known here as Charcuteria. The flavourful options were tastefully listed on a huge chalk slate covering an entire wall which adds to Tango Nuevo’s charming character. I would say it looks effortlessly marvelous but I wouldn’t be giving the chalk artist the credit they deserve – whoever can do what they have done to a chalkboard should be nominated for some sort of award.
The menu allows you to pick either 3 choices, 5 choices or 7 choices of cured meats and local artisan cheeses. I was tempted to go with the 7 choices – go big or go home is often my mantra when it comes to cheese – however I knew I wanted to try more of the menu so settled on 5.
The server recommended I try the Lankaaster cheese produced in Glengarry, ON – I’m a sucker for old cheese – and I’m glad I went with it. Also on my board was the Fleur en Lait and Hillbilly cheese and the Calabrese sausage. Of course there was also seasonal fruits, and veggies, olives, cranberry relish and grilled baguette. The cheese portions weren’t as big as I thought, so if you are going to share with a couple people, it may be best to go with the 7 options.
I also ordered the roasted mushrooms which are roasted in a garlic and white wine sauce. For only $5.00, this item hits the spot. As one of the many vegetarian options, I can attest that for all of you vegetarians out there, there will be amazing food available on the menu for you.
Next, I indulged in the Spare Rib Poutine – again, I’m not one to say no to cheese and I thought I would continue on my all cheese bender. The poutine was topped with horseradish cream which was a bit different, but my goodness was it ever good. I didn’t speak for a few minutes as I was taking it all in and I ended up enjoying it a lot faster than I probably should have… it was just that good. For only $11.00, it was a steal. I would have paid $20.00 for that kind of poutine. This is another easy recommendation from Tango Nuevo’s new menu.
During my poutine inhalation, I also was indulging in some wine. The impeccable wine list at Tango Nuevo consists of both local and international wines – something for everyone’s individual taste buds. For those who aren’t winos, there are many beers available, including some local beers on tap, as well as a full list of cocktails. I’ve tried Joel’s Gin and Tonic – the bartender’s specialty who has also been referred to as a wine guru, and it was light and refreshing. It would go nicely with any of the tapas on the menu.
Thus far, Tango Nuevo is thriving in Kingston and I don’t see that ending anytime soon as the floor continues to be lively and the tables full. With such a diverse menu and hip atmosphere, it offers a different dining experience that allows you to chat over small plates of food and try new recipes filled with local flavors. The prices are low and the food quality is high, so it’s a win-win for Tango Nuevo!
My advice would be to make reservations on weekend evenings as it does seem to fill up quite quickly! Also, look on the website to see if there are any upcoming events. Let us know about your Tango Nuevo experience with a comment below.