50 Starr Street
Brooklyn, NY 11221
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★
Cards: All Major
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 12 pm – 11 pm
Fri-Sat 12 pm – 12 am
Booze: Full Bar
Subway: L to Jefferson St.
Bushwick BK says:
“Authentic Cuisine from Spain Comes to Brooklyn,” proclaims El Mio Cid’s menu, which features dozens of hot and cold tapas, salads, meats, and shellfish. Inside, the sponge-painted walls, mural of the Spanish countryside, and posters of namesake El Cid were reminiscent of an Olive Garden, though classic Spanish restaurants often do sport some element of kitsch. A hulking glass dispenser of sangria bobs with apple chunks. The big-screen television above the bar playing soccer matches on a Latin American sports channel is unfortunate, but the wines lined up in front of a back-lit frosted-glass wall is a nice touch. Decor aside, the menu is a range of Spanish standards prepared with differing levels of success.
Pulpo al Mio Cid brings a bubbling cazuela, thin slices of octopus in a garlicky tomato broth, laced with wine and slivers of onion. The flavor is wonderful, punchy, the octopus a chewy tender. Gambas a la plancha, huge, meaty, flavorful heads-on prawns are a little sweet, smoky, spicy, and overall delicious. More solidly prepared tapas are the gambas al ajillo, shrimp in a robust garlic sauce, and sliced chorizo, just warmed through in a smoked red pepper broth. With lots of bread to soak up the remnants and juices, you might eek out a flashback of that one summer you spent in Galicia.
Escalibada was less successful. A healthy portion of roasted eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini, and codfish was a wet mess that could have been saved with lots of salt and acid. Juicy almejas rellenas, stuffed baked clams, were blanketed in canned breadcrumbs; the bacalao a la viscaina, salt cod in a strangely fluorescent red pepper sauce, was middling.
The Paella valenciana, a meaty cocktail party of chicken, veal, shrimp, sausage, monkfish, mussels, and clams in saffron rice with peas and onions, is emblematic of the El Mio Cid experience — somewhat tasty, with plump shrimp but stringy lobster meat.
So pick around. The wine is cheap, and the menu is large — among some mediocre offerings are plenty of gems.