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La Mancha on Atlantic, a return visit

Deb Van D Mar 10, 2008 10:02 AM

It occurred to me on Saturday night that I need to get back here with more regularity. But on this occasion I had been teased into it by a friend who kept dropping hints about things that he thought I would enjoy.

I did. We shared a tripe appetizer that is officially now in my top three versions (the other two being at Al Di La and Trestle on 10th). This hit the spot. And we shared the Morcilla, a really assertive sausage that had strong notes of clove. I was having trouble identifying the spice and was helped by the above-mentioned friend who has more dependable taste buds. Delicious. The last time I had a sausage this complex was at Boqueria, the chorizo there really pungent with a very good paprika. The garlic soup was enjoyed and two of us had generous, well-cooked servings of pork chops with garlic sauce. Juicy things.

It was a pleasant place to sip away a miserable, rainy, windy night. The staff is dear and we would have lingered happily but had the prospect of a long drive home. Another time. There are other things that I would like to try. Like the bacalao. And the Monaguillos.

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La Mancha
135 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

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  1. Steve R RE: Deb Van D Mar 10, 2008 06:14 PM

    Okay, a disclaimer.... everyone should judge for themselves whether to take my word on this place or not. After all, there's a picture of the owner kissing me framed and sitting on a shelf there (unfortunately the owner doing the kissing was Jose and not Lereda). At any rate, Deb seems to have recounted Saturday's dinner well enough, except that the pork chops are covered with a cabrales sauce (no, it doesnt overpower the meat), not a garlic sauce. Easy to remember garlic in this place though... it pretty much comes with everything.

    The tripe stew with chick peas is excellent and I also think it's just about as good as al di la's version. A little more peasant-y perhaps, with chunks of ham in a nice thick sauce. The morcillas (blood sausages.. 2/order) are coarse, fat, barely held together links that require that you like this kind of eating.

    The problem with La Mancha is that the tapas selection (including the morcilla, the tripe and the grilled sardines) are $7-10 and single folks and couples constantly look at the menu in the window and arent thrilled that they'll wind up spending more than the place looks like it should charge.... so they dont try it. But the portions are huge, and the price goes down nicely when things are shared by 3, 4 or more. The 4 of us each ordered apps (Deb the tripe, me the morcilla, Ginny had escargot & the 4th had garlic soup), we all had salads (gratis with dinner), we all got an amuse of cold mussels on the half shell w/chopped onions (okay, "free mussels"... the term "amuse" doesnt really go in a place like this), we downed 2 decent bottles of wine (@ $34... the halfway cost point on their menu) and 4 or so added glasses, we each had substantial entrees (pork chops x 2, swordfish special, chicken w/peppers and onions), 2 of us had cafe con leche (done well) and after dinner drinks gratis. The cost was about $60pp with tax & generous tip and I guarantee that most folks would need substantially less food to be sated. Half the swordfish and much of one pork chop order (there were 2 nice size chops/order) went home.

    I know I'm biased, but the place doesnt get half the business it should.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Steve R
      t
      tiger2 RE: Steve R Mar 10, 2008 06:59 PM

      Agreed. La Mancha is excellent. I was there recently with friends from Madrid. Four of us shared the whole grilled sardines, grilled octopus and the manchego at the bar. The octopus was perfect- well seasoned and tender. The sardines practically brought tears of joy to my Spanish friends' eyes and they said that they were exactly the way they taste at home. We then moved to the dining room to share the paella valencia and the pork chops. It was all delicious. The service was very warm and friendly. We also received the mussels and complimentary drinks... nice touches that go a long way. I'll have to try the morcilla and chorizo next time.

      1. re: tiger2
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        fishermb RE: tiger2 Mar 12, 2008 07:30 AM

        I'm glad to hear such good reviews of this place. I've been living in the neighborhood for about a year and have been meaning to check it out for a while, but never really heard anyone talking about it, I wasn't even sure if they were still in business, but I'll definitely be checking it out now.

      2. re: Steve R
        n
        Nehna RE: Steve R Mar 13, 2008 09:14 PM

        Well damn, I have never been and am going to have to fix that.....for some reason I thought the place had a bad rap on this board, but this thread has certainly convinced me otherwise. We did have a cpl grilled sardines there at the atlantic antic and I dont know why we've never thought to go in.

        1. re: Nehna
          Bob Martinez RE: Nehna Mar 14, 2008 08:00 AM

          I was there recently and enjoyed my meal. I had the garlic soup as a starter and the pork chops with cabrales cheese sauce as a main. Good stuff.

          The owner and his wife are delightful.

          1. re: Bob Martinez
            lambretta76 RE: Bob Martinez Mar 14, 2008 08:32 AM

            How is the wines by the glass selection these days? I went early on and they had but "red, white, and rose". I know the Spanish tapeo involves bottles of wine, but bottles of wine in even some of the nicer tapas bars in Spain can be had for 5 to 10 euros (my friend and I split a bottle of sherry in Malaga and it was like 8 euros) - they're much more expensive here and I'm more inclined to have but a glass.

            Anyways - I'd love to stop by with my wife for a glass of wine and to split a tapas on the way to dinner, but it's just much cheaper to do at places like Sample and Jakewalk (although the food servings there are much dearer).

            1. re: lambretta76
              Bob Martinez RE: lambretta76 Mar 14, 2008 09:29 AM

              Sorry, I can't help you there since I didn't look at the wine list. We were a group of 4 and ordered 2 bottles of wine over a 2 hour period. The wines were $38 a bottle.

              Don't worry. Steve R. will come by in a little while with detailed information.

              1. re: Bob Martinez
                Steve R RE: Bob Martinez Mar 14, 2008 07:58 PM

                And so I will. Not a great (or even good) wine list. The sangria by the pitcher is very good though. White wines are not to bother with. The most inexpensive red (mid-$20s) bottles are eh but if you're willing to go for the $34/bottle selection (3 around there), all are fine and comparable to other places. They've gotten better over time from where they started (Montecillo used to be their house wine and the $7.99 bottle was our home house wine too... but at $22/bottle, no thanks). By the glass, you can have drinkable reds for $7-9 but they're just ok.

      3. Steve R RE: Deb Van D Dec 14, 2011 01:05 PM

        Just thought I'd use this old thread as an opportunity to say goodbye to my local hangout, as Jose closed the place this past Sunday. I'll miss the sardines, the tripe and the company (not necessarily in that order). And the Atlantic Antic will not be the same.

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        La Mancha
        135 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

        10 Replies
        1. re: Steve R
          m
          Mike R. RE: Steve R Dec 14, 2011 03:15 PM

          Well Steve R, you could almost smell this coming. As far as Atlantic Antic goes, it will no longer have that special sardine-y aroma for blocks around...however, at the 2011 Festival price of $4 bucks PER, I have a feeling they were in a "last licks" state of mind.

          1. re: Mike R.
            Steve R RE: Mike R. Dec 14, 2011 05:58 PM

            Absolutely. No "almost" about the seeing it coming. I'll still miss it though.

            1. re: Steve R
              Deb Van D RE: Steve R Dec 15, 2011 04:40 AM

              I'm really sorry to hear it. It's sad, an era passing, like losing a friend.

              1. re: Steve R
                EJC RE: Steve R Dec 21, 2011 11:45 AM

                Steve, when I was there 2wks ago, Jose mentioned that his cousin or uncle would be taking over. Does that sound familiar?

                1. re: EJC
                  Steve R RE: EJC Dec 21, 2011 12:41 PM

                  Nope. The lease is being taken over by a young (in his 30s?) guy who plans to open a French bistro there in about 3 months. Met him the other day while he was inside cleaning the place. I didnt know you were still going there... havent seen you in awhile.

                  1. re: Steve R
                    EJC RE: Steve R Dec 21, 2011 12:58 PM

                    A great bistro w/ interesting wines would actually fill a niche on our side of town. Fingers crossed that it's not awful.
                    I'm bummed about losing La Mancha. It was obvious that it was coming, but once you knew what to avoid on the menu - the restaurant was a reliable standby, and Jose was always good for conversation.
                    I still stopped by with some frequency- but the lack of blood sausage (and the inevitable hangovers) curbed my regular attendance.

                    1. re: EJC
                      g
                      gpcohen RE: EJC Dec 23, 2011 04:48 PM

                      I wouldn't say great, but Palo Cortado very good Spanish-themed bistro with an extensive wine and sherry list. Worth a try, but don't expect the homespun atmosphere of La Mancha.

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                      Palo Cortado
                      520 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

                      1. re: gpcohen
                        missmasala RE: gpcohen Dec 24, 2011 06:44 AM

                        I enjoy having drinks/sherry at Palo Cordtado, but I don't love the food. It's not traditional enough. They mess around with the standards so that there's always some jarring flavor note I don't want. Plus I find it a little expensive for the amount of food you get. However, the owners are very friendly.

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                        Palo Cortado
                        520 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

                    2. re: Steve R
                      m
                      Mike R. RE: Steve R Dec 21, 2011 02:53 PM

                      Perhaps new ownership will import fresh sardines from the Brittany Coast and keep the grills going come Antic time. Such a legacy thing.

              2. re: Steve R
                Bob Martinez RE: Steve R Dec 15, 2011 10:36 AM

                That's too bad. They were really nice people and the place had a wonderful atmosphere.

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