An Oxford professor has discovered why it’s more fun to eat tapas-style than to concentrate on just a few foods per meal. It’s the same reason that, no matter how full you are, you can always find room for dessert.
Apparently many of the brain’s taste neurons respond only to specific smells, tastes and textures. If you eat only a few foods at a meal, the corresponding neurons become sated and stop reacting. Then you feel full. But if someone waves a new food in front of your nose and eyes, different neurons will be inspired and you can keep on gobbling. According to the Independent Web site, “[Professor] Rolls has shown that people who are given a variety of foods will consistently eat more than they would otherwise.”
This is one reason that Windsor’s new tapas-inspired Three is such a terrific place. The other reason is that chef Anthony Dalupan’s food is so fine that you would eat a lot of it no matter what.
Three’s three young owners (Dalupan is one) say that their idea is to serve food and wine in the spirit of tapas, but not exactly (the menu is in English, plus occasionally fractured Spanish). It’s a bit complicated, but the idea is to get people sharing and trying new things.
For example, you can order wine by the glass, the bottle or the “taste.” The latter is $2-$3, while a glass is $5-$8. A taste is much more than a sip, a bit less than half a glass. Trying a new wine with each course is positively the way to go.
Except that “courses” are a bit fluid here. You can order appetizers and entrées in traditional fashion if you insist, but the staff will steer you toward the platos instead, and they’re right. At Three, plato means an assortment of five or six dishes, more generously sized than tapas. Two people, or more, can order a vegetarian, meat, seafood or “chef’s mood” plato for $10, $15, market price, or $17 per person, respectively.
And they will be very happy. Here are just a few of the goodies you might receive from the eclectic kitchen. A plato is a whole lot of food:
• Anthony’s mom’s Filipino spring rolls, both vegetarian (light and healthy) and pork (long and slender).
• House salad with roasted tomato-tarragon dressing (also served warm as a dip), tasting of pepper and vanilla.
• Five-point peppercorn beef in brandy cream sauce.
• Miso soup with wild mushrooms and a pleasantly burnt taste.
• Tempura eggplant, peppers and carrots.
• Platter of smoky asparagus, artichoke heart and endive.
• Lamb chops with a dark, dark, minty, reduced balsamic sauce.
• Lamb with veal stock and Cambozola cheese.
• Jack Daniel’s sour mash beef tenders.
• Chicken brochettes in light peanut-coconut sauce, marinated with orange spices.
• Tapenade duck quesadillas.
• Salmon with miso stock, white wine, tarragon and chervil.
There’s also a dessert plato for $30, since your non-sated neurons will trick you into thinking you have plenty of room. The dessert menu changes every two weeks under the tutelage of a resident pastry chef. Hopefully she will hang onto her sublime raspberry crème brûlée and her dark mocha cake with the star-shaped cinnamon cookie.
I had an excellent time at Three. I would advise the staff to lighten up a bit, though. They’re helpful and friendly, but so in love with their concept that they’re bossy. To make sure you share, they won’t give everyone at the table a menu (we were allotted two for six diners). Me: “But it’s easier to know how to share if you can all read the menu at the same time and discuss.” Owner Alister Cameron: “No.”
There’s some pretentious silliness: When I asked about hours I was told, “We prefer to say afternoon and evening, rather than lunch and dinner.” For those who need more precision, “afternoon” is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and “evening” includes two “seatings,” at 6 and 8 p.m.
In addition, each diner gets only one small plate all evening (or afternoon), to eat maybe a dozen different foods from. A little generosity would be in order here. The narrow room is mostly quite attractive, though the large abstract paintings it’s hung with are generic. So don’t look.
But Three’s food is outstanding and it’s been scientifically proven that tapas are best.
Jane Slaughter dines for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].