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Watch: Vancouver's cozy new Spanish restaurant opens inside an old Mount Pleasant house

Here's what to expect at this exciting new spot with a menu inspired by foods from a traditional Spanish home

Fewer Vancouver chefs exemplify the familiar saying "mi casa es su casa" (my house is your house) than Paella Guys' founder Javier Blanc. 

That's because the local business has handily established itself as a beacon of hospitality, with every guest at their lively paella long-table dinners or intimate classes made to feel immediately at home--not to mention exceptionally well fed.

It's no surprise that Blanc has leaned into the notion of home with Casa Molina, his new standalone restaurant venture which opened at the start of May. 

It helps that Casa Molina is situated inside a converted Mount Pleasant heritage house at 2211 Manitoba St which previously was Mangia Cucina. It's a cozy, intimate space that obviously feels homey, now boasting light, modern finishes with thoughtful decor Blanc says was sourced directly from Spain. Every table has a beautiful handmade ceramic jug for still water, and bright hand-painted Spanish platters adorn the walls. 

Behind the small bar area are charming and vibrant Spanish ceramic tiles, which instantly evoke pulling up a stool at the kitchen counter, minus Casa Molina's warm and friendly service. 

Casa Molina: Menu inspired by casual and celebration eats from a Spanish home

The menu, Blanc explains, reflects all the kinds of foods you'd enjoy inside a Spanish home at several points of the year. The snack-style shareables, like Marcona almonds, marinated olives, and slices of Iberico ham, are what Blanc says he always has on hand to set out when guests come over for a casual visit.

Other dishes represent modern interpretations of foods enjoyed during various holidays or at family gatherings. While "home" is the inspiration, the presentation is contemporary, like a pedestal-raised glass bowl holding manchego ice cream that receives a generous pour of cold tomato soup called Salmorejo

The Escalivada is a refreshing vegetarian option featuring cold roasted eggplant and red peppers on creamy yogurt with a crunch from crispy leeks, almonds, and garlic, best enjoyed eaten atop slices of house-made bread (serving in charming mini canvas tote bags). Golden-fried croquetas come filled with your choice of spinach, shrimp, or ham with gooey cheese; these are among the highlights of an excellent meal.

Another highlight is the Carrilleras de Res, a piece of marinated and slow-cooked beef so tender you can cut it with a spoon. To pair with the beef, a bowl of classic Spanish Patatas Bravas, the cubed fried potato pieces with a silky aioli, and smoky "bravas" sauce. 

Paella on the menu, with one unique option

Given that Blanc earned the distinction of making the world's second-best paella last year in a prestigious global competition, Casa Molina obviously has a selection of paella on the menu, scaled down from the jaw-dropping party pans for sharing among two or four (or more) people. Blanc has a traditional Valencian chicken and rabbit paella, as well as a squid ink and seafood option and a vegan paella, however, at Casa Molina there is the unique offering of a seafood paella made with fideua, which are thin, short noodles. 

Alongside the core menu offerings, Casa Molina has a fun cocktail program featuring Spanish spirits, as well as a couple of desserts, including a take on a traditional custard-soaked and grilled bread with ice cream for a sweet finish.

Casa Molina is open for dinner from 4:30 to 11 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, and reservations (for up to 6 people) are strongly recommended.

Video: A visit to Casa Molina, Vancouver's newest Spanish restaurant

@forkingawesomevia Hot new Vancouver restaurant: The Paella Guys have opened a modern homestyle Spanish restaurant in a heritage hous. Check it out! #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #spanishfood ♬ Passionate Spanish guitar melodious(880907) - Hanadayama Music Lab

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