We had a very good dinner at Aldea last night. Chef's tasting menu with wine pairing.
Started with a "Lisbon Cooler" for me - white Port, ginger beer, lemon juice and bitters. Nice with the back-kick of the ginger beer. I love white Port. White Madeira is even better but I haven't seen it sold here.
A "17th St Sazerac" for him, Portuguese brandy and absinthe in a glass with a big piece of lemon peel (very nice, would be terrific in cold weather).
A sort of very thin meringue filled with a very tart lemon ice passed to us with instructions to eat in one bite. Nice but a bit more desserty than amuse-gueule-y.
Bear with me because I didn't note down the names of the wines, most of which were new to me...sorry...pours were reasonable in size.
Cava. Amuses-gueule - 1 oyster with mignonnette and lemon verbena, gazpacho with a half cherry tomato, a teensy cucumber, and a cherry tomato-sized burrata (oh boy that was nice).
Very small portion of cold poached foie gras with peaches, herbs, and toasted brioche. Excellent (how could it not be?). A Sherry-ish saké with - good but could have done with a bit more acid with the foie.
Maine red shrimp with steelhead roe - lovely tender shrimp, poached, a little oversalted. The roe was delicious. Spanish white.
Wild striped bass with butter beans and little teeny brown beans in a strong consommé (best dish of the night). Very odd but intriguing Portuguese white, with a cedary/floral note. Again something a bit tarter might have been more to our taste but I'm glad to have tried this wine (also glad not to have been saddled with a whole bottle of it).
Arroz de pato - seared rare duck breast, cracklings, baked rice (a little underdone) with thin crisped slices of chorizo and duck confit. Little dabs of bitter orange moussey stuff. Could not finish this. V tasty though. Portuguese red.
Watermelon ice with little panna cotta thingy - a nice visual echo of the gazpacho.
Passionfruit mousse on a chocolate crumb base with coconut ice cream on a coconut meringue base, with bruléed bananas. White port with this. (My plate had a candle and Happy Birthday written on it in chocolate, a nice touch since I missed my actual bday dinner there).
Pistachio-dried cherry financiers and strawberry pate de fruits. Chocolate-raspberry truffles. Very good espresso.
The place was packed with a varied crowd of different ages. Very comfortable restaurant - we had a corner table at the end of the banquette in the part leading to the open kitchen, with a view of same. Lighting was pleasantly low and the servers very attentive (and informed/informative about the wines).
Looking forward to next time.
31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
Had a delicious meal last night and would return in a heartbeat. Started with the sea urchin toast which I think I could have eaten 10 of, it was that good. Then I had the wild bass, which was perfectly cooked and really delicious, followed by the little beignets. So a light meal, but every bite was wonderful.
Finally made it here and was impressed with our meal. Having eaten our way through Spain recently, I've been looking for something to scratch that Iberian itch. Aldea, while serving Portuguese cuisine, is doing great, delicious, inventive cuisine that satisfies! Bravo!
Foie gras terrine was a generous portion. We split it and they brought two LARGE squares of freshly toasted, warm, buttery brioche. The cocoa nibs, sea salt, and nectarines added interesting contrasts to the buttery and creamy foie gras. Excellent! I loved the brioche and hate it when restaurants don't give you enough for the amount of foie gras. This was NOT the case at Aldea.
For my appetizer, the peas with poached egg, shavings of truffle, wild mushrooms, and thick chunks of smoky Benton's bacon. How could you go wrong? A wonderful combination of flavors. Delicious.
My husband's tomato-cherry gazpacho with mozzarella ravioli topped with sliced heirloom tomatoes was also good. The ravioli were quite clever -- spheres that popped in your mouth. Quite satisfying.
The real stars of the show were the mains, though. Pennsylvania Baby Goat was meaty, tender, and delicious. The savory nature of the wild mushrooms really enhanced the flavor of the goat, and was bolstered further by pickled cherries! I should also mention that the portions are quite generous. My husband mistook a generous piece of goat (with the carmelized skin) to be a mushroom at first, then realized just how much protein was on his plate.
Arroz de pato was excellent, as has been reported elsewhere. Wonderfully chewy rice with the intense flavors of duck. A few generous slices of duck breast on top, and shreds of delicious duck meat scattered throughout. A sprinkling of thinly sliced chorizo, bits of dark savory olive, and duck cracklings, with some apricot puree. I was not certain that I could finish the mount of paella on my plate and I was not wrong, but I longer to keep eating and keep discovering all the different combinations of chorizo-olive-apricot-rice-crackling. This dish was fantastic. I will dream about this dish in the winter, whenever it snows, waiting for my notional Portuguese grandmother to make me this dish.
Although we were stuffed, my husband cannot resist donuts on any menu. The sauces of spicy chocolate, apricot, and hazelnut praline were quite good. Our favorite was the chocolate which had a bit of a kick. Donuts were fluffy and served piping hot. Good, not the best donuts I've ever had, but solid.
And I had loved the brioche that came with our foie gras so much, that I ordered the carmelized brioche with a creme-fraiche peppercorn pink ice cream, with blood orange sauce. I though the brioche was a little soggy as I was expecting a wider, flatter slice of bread (with some crust), but I really loved the pink peppercorn ice cream. Good but I'd go for the chocolate textures or strawberry tasting instead.
The petit fours also bear mentioning. The tiny tea cakes came out hot from the oven. Buttery and light. The apricot jelly was fine. The chocolate cherry brownie square was excellent. Intense. Like what you would get if you boiled down a pound of cherries and a pound of chocolate into a tiny square and made a brownie. My husband said it was like "freebasing a brownie."
With coffee (a very generous cup!) and a single cocktail, tax, and tip, the bill came out to about $160-170. Service was excellent. Next time: the chef's counter!
I have to say the arroz con pato was senstional. The little dollops of apricot were a nice touch.
However, the piece de resistence for us was the brioche dessert. With pink peppercorn ice cream and a blood orange glaze. It was the most heavenly piece of French toast ever.
I will dream about this dessert tonight!
Went to Aldea last night. No reservation, had dinner at the bar. When I left they apologized they didn't have a seat at the chef's counter. The same excellent service as the last time I went. Their proximity to Penn Station might be a dangerous thing. I had:
*Foie gras and duck terrine, nectarines, cocoa, nectarine sorbet - really enjoyed the flavors and textures (cocoa crumbs) . . .delicious
*Baby cuttlefish caramelized lychee, mentaiko (fish row), squid ink - very good, liked the caramelized lychee (different and surprising). Not sure if I'd get this again.
*Monkfish, roasted baby eggplant, tomato-saffron, yogurt - server suggested this when I couldn't decide between the fish entrees and didn't want the duck paella (I had a duck salad for lunch at Scallions) - very good, enjoyed the eggplant flavors
*Caramelized brioche, blood orange gel creme fraiche pink peppercorn ice cream - delicious
I could get addicted to Aldea.
We went last night. Service was excellent. No issues with noise (one lively table behind us) even though room is rather long and narrow. Now on to the food:
BREAD - great flavor, olive bread was a little old (my teeth got tired), really good olive oil
We had a bottle of Alion Ribera Del Duero Cosecha 2005. Thanks again to our server for her excellent suggestion.
*Knollcrest farm egg (bacalao, black olive, potato) - served in an egg. Delicious.
*Sea urchin toast (cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, lime) - very good
Duck ham, house cured - interesting, never had it before, good. Barbecue type sauce on the side. Probably would not get again.
*Lightly cured spanish mackeral, meter lemon, almond milk, crunchy soy - amazing flavors, loved this
*Shrimp alhinho (garlic, coriander, pimenton, pressed jus) - very good, another favorite
*Arroz de pato/duck confit, chorizio, olive, duck cracklings, rice - delicious, loved this dish. Duck was cooked so incredibly perfect. Appreciate that chef was able to accomodate request to serve chorizio on the side.
*SONHOS "little dreams" - spiced chocolate, smoked paprika apricot (loved this sauce!), hazelnut praline (a creamy sauce)
PS This is how I wanted to feel after dining at Corton and spending over twice as much . . . finally a new place that deserves the praise and is not overhyped/overrated.
we went last night, and had:
duck ham (not ham, but done in the style of it)
mushroom consomme (with ravioli? which "pop" in your mouth)
arroz de pato
strawberry and chocolate dessert dishes.
the ONLY complaint we had was that there was definitely too much salt in both entrees. i like salt, but this was way too much, and it wasn't unique to the pork or chorizo. but the food was quite good.
service was exceptional, wine was affordable. nice place.
Excellent. We had the peas with bacon, egg and truffles, the baby squid, roast baby goat and pork belly with clams. For dessert, rhubarb soup and caramelized brioche. Loved every dish. The kitchen was a bit slow but the staff was very apologetic and each dish came out perfect. Really delicious bread, too. The place is still new so they need a little time to get the timing worked out. I can't wait to go back.
RRems: I took your advice and ordered the cuttle fish and the goat and both were fantastic! The goat was so mild and delicious; it was served with chanterelles and other mushrooms, and cherries. Spectacular! Equally spectacular was the cuttle fish dish--the "Thai-ish" combination of flavors was a "wow!" I scooped up every last bite of the sauce, after finishing the fish.
My friends ordered the shrimp, which I tasted and also give very high marks (love the smoked pimenton--shrimp were truly excellent) and the arroz de pato--very, very happy with those. I tasted the duck, too, and have it on my list for next time. There is both confit and magret in the rice, along with chorizo.
We tried the ramp/pig's ear for the table. Interesting combination of flavors, but not an essential for me.
Desserts looked intriguing but we behaved and shared one lonely dish of three sorbets--vanilla coconut, spicy plum, and one more which I have forgotten. Served with a tuile-like cookie. Excellent.
We were seated upstairs which was much quieter than the main room. So while we did not get to see the open kitchen, we were very pleased. Definitely worth a return visit soon! Thanks for all of your help!!
Great recs. The sea urchin toast and arroz de pato were amazing. Also tried the octopus a la plancha with chickpeas and black ash (???) . Delicious, the dish did not taste ashy, just a bit smokey. I liked the sonhos too. Last night they were served with spiced chocolate, concord grape, and apple cider caramel. Can't wait to return.
A friend and I ate at the chef's table last night, and it was a wonderful meal. We had a 9pm rez and there was a delay at the beginning, but the chef apologized profusely and brought out an extra app. We had the razor clams, ramps with crisped pigs ears (unbelievably yummy and great flavor/texture combinations), spring consomme, shrimp alhinho (the pimenton flavor was outstanding), arroz de pato (essentially a duck paella), and scallops (perfectly cooked). We also shared a relatively inexpensive bottle of Portuguese red.
We were too stuffed to try the desserts, but will definitely be going back. I can see this becoming a go-to restaurant for me.