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The atmosphere at El Pulpo and Tapas Bar is refined; the menu is Spanish. Credit Lisa Wiltse for The New York Times

In an atmosphere that hints at the sumptuous, with crystal chandeliers, linen-draped tables and bottles of wine displayed ornamentally, El Pulpo and Tapas Bar, in Southington, serves well-prepared Spanish cuisine that is, happily, very modest in price.

This combination of refined setting and reasonable pricing helps explain why El Pulpo, which was opened in 2012 by two cousins, Maria Elena Guzman and Kleber Guzman, is so popular, serving to capacity crowds on many nights.

The modest prices are all the more impressive in light of El Pulpo’s sizable portions and touches of generosity. Meals start with a gratis serving of house-marinated olives (both black and green), and finish with a complimentary glass of muscatel.

In escabeche of monkfish, a special entree listed at $22, the oblong piece of fish, draped in a tomato cream sauce, was so big it barely left enough space on the plate for grilled octopus, a timbale of artichoke risotto spiked with truffle oil and an assortment of grilled vegetables. Boneless short ribs, at $23, featured a thick slab of fork-tender beef more than seven inches in length, in addition to a delicious purée of snow peas and potatoes. And the chuletas de cordero ($21), a trio of oven-seared T-bone lamb chops (with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini), were a terrific bargain.

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Carpasia de pulpo, which is octopus salad topped with an organic spring mix and sherry vinaigrette. Credit Lisa Wiltse for The New York Times

Even the cazuela de mariscos, a savory fish stew, was a surprise, with a surfeit of seafood top-heavy with salmon and bay scallops, and only a passing presence of potatoes. Its delightful broth consisted of a homogeneous blend of tomatoes, white wine, butter and garlic.

Although similar in color, the orange-colored sauce of vieiras a la plancha was richer, with overtones of cream, roasted pepper and a hint of Champagne, perfectly complementing the well-seared scallops, chunks of lobster and mammoth cube of fried risotto. All that would have been more than sufficient, but the kitchen went further, adding a lunette of herbed oil to the plate and a layer of aioli under the crispy rice cake. That amounted to too much of a good thing; a slurry of sauces risks muddying flavors and confusing the palate.

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Orange flan with mint. Credit Lisa Wiltse for The New York Times

This culinary overkill, admittedly a minor complaint, is especially apparent in El Pulpo’s tapas, in which blobs of aioli, pools of oil, dribbles of harissa and dots of balsamic reduction proliferate. In addition to a superbly smoky red pepper sauce that blankets piquillos rellenos de cordero, a Jackson Pollock of three additional liquids suggests a lack of confidence in these otherwise excellent peppers filled with shredded lamb. Similarly, I’ve seldom had octopus as tender as the long strips of grilled tentacles of carpasia de pulpo, and the paprika aioli (spiked with beads of roe) that dressed its arugula salad was sufficient without the additional presence of harissa and herbed oil.

Lomo de cerdo was just as overdecorated, but more notable was the substitution of pork loin for tenderloin and strips of red bell pepper for the more delicate piquillos. Yet those ingredients, when teamed with Spanish tetilla cheese and melted over slender baguette toasts, resulted in a crunchy, chewy combination that worked. Less satisfactory was the inclusion of a Boursin-type cheese, instead of cabra, stuffed into rollitos de salmón marinado; perhaps if the buttery-soft salmon had truly been marinated, rather than smoked, the result might have been more harmonious.

Mejillones al vino blanco, another choice among the tapas, was prepared with greater aplomb, the mussels steamed in a garlicky broth of butter, wine and tomato that was so addictive I requested more bread with which to sop up the final few drops. Also good to the last morsel was alcachofas salteadas, a sautéed medley of a half-dozen baby artichoke hearts (likely canned or jarred, I thought, not fresh as indicated on the menu), with garlic, white wine, tomatoes and capers.

Desserts at El Pulpo are formally presented on a tray, and apart from a lava cake that was more syrupy lava than cake, and an ossified profiterole, most were worth sampling. Particularly enjoyable were the creamy rice pudding, which had a brûlée-style topping and was rich with vanilla and, more subtly, cinnamon; and a two-layer custard cake, tangy with lime on one level and sweet with mango on the other, supported by a chocolaty base. Best of all was the orange flan, a silky-smooth caramel custard enhanced with a touch of orange zest.