Ofrenda: Solid Mexican Newcomer in the West Village
Ofrenda opened up on 7th Ave. between W. 4th and Christopher St. about two weeks ago (http://ny.eater.com/archives/2009/12/...), so it's hard to tell exactly how good or bad this restaurant will turn out to be. But we did happen to have a very pleasant meal there, tonight.
Highlights: A number of the cocktails were inventive and delicious. The smoky Scotch, pineapple juice and jalepeno cocktail was sweeter than I usually like my cocktails, but was a winning combination of flavors. A (non-seasonal) cucumber cocktail was also refreshing and delicious. Jalapeno margarita was more run of the mill, though pleasant, and a bit too heavy on the ice. I'd consider coming to the restaurant for the drinks, alone, at the bar, which looked pretty welcoming.
The guacamole and black bean dip with tortilla chips were very good. Guacamole was a perfectly balanced combination of good, ripe avocado, onion, tomato, cilantro and lime -- simple, of course. But in NYC it's a happy and semi-rare occurrence to encounter guac made out of such perfect avocados. Black bean dip had a touch of cream. We went through two plates of freshly fried chips with these dips before we could stop ourselves.
Ribeye steak came wonderfully bloody and rare, oversalted (not inedibly so), but otherwise nicely cooked. It was served with pico de gallo over top, a bit of grilled / broiled leek, spinach and a stuffed prickly chayote half, where the innards had been scooped out, mixed with crema and / or farmer's cheese, and served in the shell. Excellent, balanced, classic pico de gallo. Meat was very tender and good enough to eat almost raw. At $20, it was the most expensive item on the menu and in my opinion, a very good deal.
The porkchop milanese was a little less to my taste. It was served with some reddish sauce (the menu said pomegranate) over top, refried black beans and a diced zucchini sautee. Pork was very well done (to me, overcooked, though I know some like pork that way), but had a lovely, thick, crispy breading. Zucchini was slightly undersalted (maybe it was the contrast to the steak that made me think so) and had a little bit more bite than I personally like (about 3/4 cooked through with some crispiness left). Again, it is a matter of taste, here, and I couldn't actually say it was poorly executed; I just prefer my zucchini cooked until soft.
The business model is interesting: They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not sure whether that'll help keep them afloat or make it harder for them in this economy. They had a number of nice sounding seafood dishes, a really interesting sounding pig trotters appetizer which I intend to try next time, and a few vegetarian offerings. Service was friendly and efficient. My only complaint is that servers aren't asked to take away first course utensils and replace them... a pet peeve since I hate having my used, sticky / saucy utensils touching the germy table.
The chef, Luis Mota, was eating / drinking in the dining room when we were. (Looked like a very nice fellow, but we didn't talk to him.) According to my Google stalking, he went to Cordon Bleu and used to chef at Bouley. (http://newyork.metromix.com/restauran...)
113 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014