Alex Ewald is the chef-owner of La Tapa, a contemporary Mediterranean restaurant in Cruz Bay on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. La Tapa has been open for 20 years, and is loved by locals and tourists alike, who feast on Ewald's eclectic array of healthy and elegant dishes from a menu that changes daily. Ewald brings her experience cooking in kitchens across Europe to La Tapa, making it one of the most cultured and creative dining options on St. John.
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Locals know, you know’ And when St. John locals want to drop some cash on a really fantastic evening of fine wines, enticing tapas and the most delectable menu offerings, they head to La Tapa.
Traces of owner/chef Alex Ewald’s diverse past and her innate ability to concoct unique, flavorful creations is evident in each dish on La Tapa’s menu. The food is hard to classify, but if one must box La Tapa’s cuisine into distinct categories, the genres of Spanish, Caribbean and French will do. Alex draws on experiences garnered during her formative years, which were spent in Europe, and she continues to travel during off-season in search of new and innovative ways to keep the offerings at La Tapa fresh and exciting.
Simply put, Alex cooks like a woman: her emotions and instincts play a role in every meal she creates, resulting in dishes that have been described as decidedly feminine. Her flair for decorating is just as exemplary as her skills in the kitchen. Crossing the threshold from the busy Cruz Bay street into La Tapa’s dining room is akin to entering another country. The restaurant’s austere bar and Spanish-inspired adornments (Alex spent three years in Spain) set the tone for the bustling, fun atmosphere that is part of the La Tapa experience.
You can expect the best from La Tapa, because Alex expects nothing less from herself and her staff. The heart and soul that goes into each dish is evident in the menu, which changes nightly and features unique offerings such as grilled local yellowtail snapper basquaise with squid ink orzo. Some dishes, such as the paella for two, with chicken, seafood, spicy sausage and saffron risotto, are mainstays for a reason: they are popular favorites and, oh yes, they are damn good.
Take it slow with La Tapa. Get to know her first with an evening at the bar, sampling tapas and wine by the glass, conversing with fellow bar patrons and just taking in the whole experience. Once you have a feeling for what you like, come back for the whole shebang: a full-out three- or four-course dinner complete with wine pairings. We assure you, you will not be disappointed.
"Alex Ewald, chef at La Tapa, an 11-year-old restaurant in Cruz Bay, is proof that women do cook differently from men: more from the heart and more from the soul. Ewald pulled off an incredible reception dinner despite losing power in the restaurant that day (I thought all of the tea lights were only there to be romantic!). She recalled that my friend loved one of the paintings hanging in the restaurant (the restaurant doubles as a gallery for local talent) and shot the image for the wedding dinner menus. And the menu, a mix of French, Caribbean and Spanish flavors, could was full of delicious surprises like escargot with garlic, thyme, Chardonnay and cream and perfectly seared duck breast dressed with caramelized shallot and calvados sauce."
FoodandWine.com ~ October 2007
La Tapa Authentically European in St.John
It doesn't have a view of the water or an airy tropical ambiance. But that doesn't prevent La Tapa from making the A-list of dining in St. John. Visiting celebrities, and local residents flock to the tiny restaurant in the center of in Cruz Bay for an amazing dinner, served with a generous dose of creativity and European authenticity. . .
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