we kicked things off with a couple of new plates: the coliflor refrita and the tortilla espanola. knowing that chef grace insists on keeping one fryer exclusively meat-free, we (and you) don't have to think twice about ordering fried foods at modesto; still, we're pretty sure these cauliflower florets were pan-fried rather than deep-fried. either way, we enjoyed the coliflor refrita well enough, even if they were a touch underseasoned, and we were more than satisfied with the quantity of florets. (if you're thinking about preparing fresh cauliflower at home, you're in for a very labor-intensive endeavor.) but the highlight of this small plate was the subtle truffle notes. truffle oil = love.
the tortilla espanola was a new experience for us, and, despite its humble composition, we have to admit that it was our favorite dish of the night. the menu says it's a spanish omelet, but it's more like a quiche/pie. comprised of potatoes and onions, the flavors were mild yet complex, and the texture was divine--tender and occasionally flaky. the sauce was lovely, too, but it was the caperberries that really sent us over the moon.
from here, we moved on to two of our favorite dishes from our last visit. we both badly wanted to again sink our teeth into the ensalada de verduras mixtas, but we were sorely disappointed this time. the marinade seemed to be of an entirely different composition than last time, and the flavors overall were just... flat.
as bummed as we were about the grilled salad, we thought surely the vegetable paella would save the day. it did not. as it was with our very first visit, the paella was under-seasoned and the vegetables were overcooked. it wasn't inedible by any means, but it wasn't the sensational dish we remembered from our second visit.
it's possible that the preparation of food was rushed this night, what with the full dining room from the charity event, but we fear that the underseasoning is more status quo than exception. we've now visited modesto three times, and though that's hardly a large sample, we feel uneasy about the prospect of returning. we had such a lovely meal on our second visit that we thought for sure the vegetarian food was trending toward "awesome," but now it appears it might just be "good."