Aldea - Recommended
31 W 17th St, New York 10011
Btwn 5th & 6th Ave
Phone: (212) 675-7223
Took the wife here for her birthday, since the decor and the menu reminded me of restaurant Moo in Barcelona - a favorite of ours. It was a great pick as the modern decor and food impressed the wife...all in a relaxed comfortable environment. Chef George Mendes has some heavy credentials and it shows - from Alain Passard, to Bouley to Roger Verge - the food here rocks. Overall, I give the restaurant an 86/100.
bacalao, black olive, potato
Nice flavor with the egg and good texture, but the dish overall was too salty. Needed more potato to balance out the salt code and the olives.
Sea Urchin Toast **
cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, lime
Nice piece of uni that was completely elevated by the cauliflower cream and the pungent mustard seeds kinda having a wasabi type effect.
Rustic Pork and Duck Terrine **
muscat wine gelee, arugula
Spectacular in flavor and texture. Huge porkiness and the muscat gelee helped cut the richness The only thing that I could complain about is this may have been a case of too much of a good thing. Intense porkiness and duckiness was great for 5 bites, but after that it was a wee bit too intense - too much flavor and too much fat.
Foie Gras Terrine *
nectarines, cocoa nibs, nectarine sorbet
A decent foie gras terrine, but once you had great ones it's hard to be wowed. Beautiful texture though.
Baby Cuttlefish **
caramelized lychee, mentaiko, squid ink
Incredibly tender cuttlefish with some great flavor...salty squid ink and sweet lychee made for some heavenly balancing
baby lettuces, young vegetables, flowers, aged country cheese, port vinaigrette
Best salad for me by far in 2009. Each lettuce had purpose and the flavors of each leaf were pronounced. It was a zen like yasuda moment where each fish was completely different and unique. Add the wonderful texture/flavor complements of the brie like cheese, pear, pomegranate seeds, sunchoke, and cumin flavors and you had something magical.
Arroz De Pato **
duck confit, chorizo, olive, duck cracklings
Great rice texture, crispy duck skin with huge flavor. The chorizo and salty olives just made all the flavors pop.
Anderson Farms Lamb **
loin and belly, seckle pear, celery root
Amazing to have the lamb belly as a cut of meat for the first time - fatty and delicious and huge lamb flavors. Lamb loin was perfectly cooked, but you had to cut against the grain to make the lamb tender. Otherwise it was slightly chewy. Still a great dish overall.
House-Made Sorbets *
green apple, blackberry, coconut
Coconut had the best texture and flavor, but it was more like an ice cream. The green apple and blackberry tasted pretty good, but the texture was more like a puree. What I love about sorbets is a nice crisp, but creamy texture. I still enjoyed the sorbet though, but it somehow missed the mark.
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way
Overall Restaurant Experience (86/100)
- Food (8.7/10) – Food had huge flavors and everything was plated beautifully. Definitely reminded me of a lot of restaurants back in Barcelona and San Sebastian.
- Service (9/10) – Server was incredibly helpful and actually excited about the food which was kind of refreshing to see. The food came out quick and they cleaned up the crumbs after every dish - my mini pet peeve for expensive restos.
- Atmosphere (9/10) – Another flash back to the restaurants of Spain, except on a less grander scale. Minimalist/modern decor - all white walls, blond tables, and white leather chairs. Crowd consisted of primarily couples both in their 30's and 40-50's. Made reservations one month in advance and was seated promptly. Place was still full considering it was a blizzard that Saturday.
- Price (8.5/10) – About $180 (tip/drinks included) which seemed good considering how happy and full we were.
Really happy with the restaurant selection although my ordering of dishes needs to change. I tend to go with the heavy hitters in terms of flavor and you can only take so many heavily flavored dishes...ordered a wee bit too much huge flavored dishes and it was a bit too much towards the end. Need to break up the ordering with some crudos or more salads next time. Scores would have been higher were it not for my heavy flavored ordering...also apologies on the camera work as I was still playing with the droid for the first time.