WHO’S IN CHARGE Aziz Danguir arrived at our table, concerned. To him, we were patrons who ordered the steak fritas medium, and it came rare. He didn’t know we were there to do a review.
The assistant general manager at Matadora, the new Spanish tapas-and-steaks restaurant in the Hilton Woburn/Boston, swiftly removed the plate with deep apologies. A cook returned with the Bavette (flank) steak cooked medium and a new, hot batch of Manchego-rosemary papas fritas we quickly devoured. A side dish of Brussels sprouts a la plancha with Manchego and pimentón — a freebie to cover the kitchen culpa — warmed our hearts and forks.
The service, the food, the look, and feel of the space made us bullish for Matadora.
The restaurant is a partnership between two Boston hospitality groups: COJE Management, which includes Yvonne’s, Lolita, and Ruka, and the Pyramid Hotel Group.
“We created it in the social dining style we’re known for with authentic, standout cuisine,” Tom Berry, COJE culinary director, said via e-mail. “Matadora’s menu draws inspiration directly from my travels through Spain and each touch-point of the guest experience supports that theme — from menu design to decor and service style within the space.”
The restaurant is part of the Woburn hotel’s recent $16 million renovation. Matadora opened Oct. 30.
THE LOCALE Matadora is the star of the hotel lobby. The 188-seat (including patio) restaurant offers diverse options. There are tables with armchairs, circular booths with round tables, and stools at the chef’s counter where guests can watch the cooks in the open kitchen.
A square bar is the central attraction in the lounge arena. A patio with outdoor seating will open in the spring.
One guy polished off a burger at a table; a group squeezed into a circular booth lingered over wine and dinner.
We got cozy in a circular booth and start with glasses of wine: Syrah ($11) and Tempranillo ($12). Spanish guitar music weaved through the laughter and conversation.
ON THE MENU Small plates run the gambit from Spanish cheeses and meats to olives, nuts, and tapas, many involve ingredients from the Basque region. Garnishes, such as edible flowers on the wood-grilled broccoli ($11), pretty up the dishes. The slight char of the broccoli marries nicely with the Piperade sauce — kissed with heat — and smoked almonds.
Jamon Iberico croquettes ($11) came as four deep-fried breaded balls filled with Idiazabal cheese (sheep’s milk) and a hint of ham in béchamel sauce topped with a paprika aoli. The flaming chorizo ($16) — four miniature grilled sausages engulfed in a blue flame — get a tangy hit from the honey mustard.
We enjoy the steak frites ($28) nuanced with smoky garlic butter and the exceptional fries. The hot churros ($9) for dessert are airy doughnut-like sticks coated with sugar and cinnamon; when dipped into the warm dark chocolate, we surrendered.
Matadora, Hilton Boston/Woburn, 2 Forbes Road, Woburn. 781-904-0658; matadorarestaurant.com.
Naomi Kooker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.