When wandering down the cobblestone streets of Rosemary Beach, you might turn the corner and find yourself in Barcelona, Spain. Well, maybe not literally, but La Crema Tapas and Chocolate is authentic enough that it could fool you. The Spanish-style restaurant is designed after popular tapas and chocolate shops in Madrid and Barcelona that owners Kevin and Kim Neel discovered on a romantic trip to Spain.
“We just fell in love with the lifestyle and the way they live,” Kevin said. “The food, the Spanish wine and the chocolate—all the flavors are amazing. We wanted to create something like that here in Rosemary.”
So after creating a business plan and finding the perfect space, the Neels returned to Spain in search of the perfect flavors.
“We went back to some of our favorite restaurants and spoke with the chefs,” Kevin said. “They were very forthcoming, honored even that we wanted to use their recipes. We don’t cook or anything, so when we got home we had to find a chef that would help make all of this come to life.”
Their dreams came true in February 2009, when the Neels opened La Crema Tapas and Chocolate, an intimate-style restaurant with only a handful of tables and a small kitchen — set up with “home” in mind.
“We wanted to recreate what we loved so much about Spain,” Kevin said. “The way they live — they value eating and drinking with their families. That’s the ambiance we went for. We want you to come in, relax, eat a few things, drink some wine, eat some more. There’s never any pressure to hurry and get out. It’s not about turning tables, but enjoying the moment and savoring each delicious bite.”
Don’t let the word “tapas” fool you; the small plates are bursting with flavor, like the chocolate dipped bacon and the Spanish cheese platter. Bestselling tapas are the Serrano wrapped figs, figs marinated in red wine then filled with honey goat cheese then wrapped with thin Serrano ham, and the Eggplant, Aged Goat and Basil Stack, with grilled eggplant layered with aged goat cheese then topped with a basil tomato puree.
And at La Crema, you don’t want to miss dessert. From the OMG Chocolate Espresso Cookie to the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fondue, it’s all about indulgence. The customer favorite is the Hot Chocolate Molten cake, a mug of molten dark fudge cake that’s crisp on top with hot lava chocolate below.
“We love our little place,” Kevin said. “We meet all our friends here, and I come in to bartend once in a while to visit with our customers and get their feedback. It’s become like a second home; turned out to be a nice big family.”
La Crema Tapas and Chocolate is located at 38 Main Street in Rosemary Beach. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information or to view the menu, visit www.lacrematapas.com or call 624-8272.