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Ideya, "Latin Bistro," SoHo: a Burke and Wells Review (long)

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"How long a wait, Peter?"
"Two and a half hours."
"What!?"
"Blue Ribbon is very popular, Gary."
"But it's almost eleven at night!"
"I'm not waiting nearly three hours, let's go somewhere else."

We walk down West Broadway.

"French?"
"Not in the mood."
"How about pasta, lots of Italian places."
"Ooh, hey, a 'latin bistro,' looks interesting!"
"What's it called?"
"Ideya. Seems friendly, full but not packed, music but not pounding, price is right, let's try it!"

We're seated right away.

"Decor is nothing fancy, but look at these drinks."
"'Best mojito in NYC,' eh? I doubt it."
"We're not driving, we live here now, go have one! I'm having a virgin drink, a pineapple baditos."
"What's a baditos?"
"Dunno. But it looks fruity and tropical and frothy. I'll skip the rum."

Drinks arrive.

"This *is* a darn good mojito!"
"Oh yeah? Try this."
"Oh man, Peter, your baditos wins. It's what an Orange Julius wishes it was."
"Best pina colada I've had in ages, only it's not."
"I love how you get an old wine bottle full of water."
"I love these plantain chips! Totally try one."
"Light, crispy, golden, salty but not too salty, you're right! And they're way better with the salsa."
"I don't like salsa, Gary, you know that. It's too hot for me."
"You'll like this one. Try it."
"It's...fresh! Crispy, not burning, flavorful!"
"I saw on the menu, they sell it by the jar."

Appetizers arrive.

"What'd you get?"
"Tuna. They call it 'Atun Dominicano'--it's seared tuna that's been marinated first in anise. This cocoanut rum sauce is a fine accent. It's very good. Not killer, but good."
"Taste this duck, Gary."
"Duck?"
"Yeah, its a braised duck leg in an orange and chocolate sauce, matched with stewed onions and leeks. It's called 'pato de chocolate' and it totally rules."
"Wow, tender, falls off the bone, rich, citrus bright, deep with the hint of cocoa, very nice!"

Entrees arrive.

"This chicken in rice is okay. 'Puerto Rican-style rice'? I suppose. It's good, fresh, not greasy, but I'm not knocked out."
"You should have had the braised short ribs, Gary. I win again. Check this out: 'Costillas de reyes,' braised beef short ribs, roasted sweet potato, beet salad and orange gravy."
"Orange again? Wasn't there orange in your duck appetizer?"
"Yeah, but this is different, and it's exceptional! The meat is tender, and has that amazing mouth feel you only get from gelatin. The vinegar in the pickled beets is a perfect offset."
"Alright, you take the prize. But I'm going to win dessert."

Desserts arrive.

"You'll have a hard time beating this, Gary: churros with hot cocoa."
"Forget it, I win."
"But these churros are crispy outside, tender as a daydream inside!"
"I win."
"The cocoa isn't sweet, it's spicy and warming!"
"I still win."
"Gary, stop saying that, this comes with MINTED whipped cream, the perfect foil to the fried dough, and again, not too sweet!"
"I win anyway. Try this flan."
"Flan? You win with flan?"
"Try it."
"Oh my god. It's the best flan I've had since...since...
"Yes...?
"Since Gordon's home made at the San Francisco Chowhound gathering in Golden Gate park!"
"Correct."
"But that was the greatest flan EVER!"
"This is close. It's creamy, not too sweet, not too eggy, dark but not bitter."
"They took the custard to just that right spot!"
"Must have pulled in still undercooked and let carryover finish it."
"Hard enough to do at home, let alone in a busy kitchen. Yes. Okay. You win. But not by much!"
"I like places where it's hard to tell who ordered the best thing, because it's all so good."
"Absolutely! This 'latin bistro' is a winner. Good food, a few standouts, no real weak spots--"
"And right-priced. Tip brings us to about $90 for two, but that was three courses each, and drinks."
"We have to remember to come back sometime! Nice location too, in Soho."
"What's the address again?"

Ideya
"Latin Bistro"
349 West Broadway
Soho
New York
phone: (212) 625-1441 (delivery)
Open 7 days
http://www.ideya.com

--Peter Wells
peterwells@mac.com

A Burke & Wells Review
http://www.burkeandwells.com

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  1. Thanks for the great write-up, Peter! Amusing and informative, just the way I remember your writing. I'll be looking forward to giving this place a try

    Deenso

    1 Reply
    1. re: Deenso

      This one was an experiment in dialog. Fun, but I don't think it worked all that well. I probably won't try it again. Burke found it forced, and I think he was right. Oh well!

      But the restaurant was fun and really did have a killer flan. I'll go back for that flan any day.

      Thanks, nice to see you again Deenso!

      --Peter
      peterwells@mac.com

    2. Glad to hear that Ideya is still around and good. I'm hardly ever in that area and I haven't heard Ideya mentioned at all recently, so I assumed the worst. It's a good time to revisit them.

      3 Replies
      1. re: E Eto

        IMO stick to the mojitos and head somewhere else for food. Haven't been in about a year....as nothing really stood out to make me want me to rush back anytime soon.

        1. re: jenniebnyc

          I hope I didn't give the impression that Ideya was some sort of super discovery. There were no real weak spots, the plantain chips and salsa were a relief from the usual nachos, and the flan was really top notch. Given that, and the good quality of the rest of the meal (especially the braises), I found Ideya a good place.

          I think the dialog format of this post conveyed more excitement than it should have, as I was trying to capture the moment of discovery--that doesn't always reflect on an "objective" summation of the quality of the food or even the whole experience. It's a limitation of the format I was experimenting with. I'll drop it in the future, it doesn't do what I want it to do.

          Thanks!

          --Peter
          peterwells@mac.com

          1. re: Peter Wells

            Thanks for your response. The report did make your meal sound a lot more "exciting" than I think it really was, so I appreciate your recourse.

            When in the neighborhood, I will still stop in for a mojito....after a few everything tastes pretty good regardless. LOL

            Cheers.