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Jun 16, 2010 11:52 AM

aldea, dishes to avoid and must haves

ill be going to aldea sometime soon. I was wondering is the 5 course tasting just 1 course from each section of the menu? and are there any must haves or dishes to avoid?

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  1. In an interview on Eater, Chef George Mendes said that he has just composed an entirely new tasting menu though the one dish it includes that is not new is his signature duck rice. If you don't go with the tasting, it's definitely a must have dish! The must have dessert is the "sonhos." Imo, unless there is something that you personally don't care for, there are no avoids.

    Aldea photos, including the duck rice and the "sonhos":

    8 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      ok, so the chef tasting is composed of things not on the menu like degustation or is it a choice of 5 courses from sections of the menu like marea?

      1. re: daffyduck

        In that Eater piece I mentioned, Chef Mendes said clearly that, other than the duck rice, the new tasting is composed of off-the-menu dishes.

        1. re: RGR

          Now I am torn. I am heading there tomorrow evening for the first time and I don't know if I should try the new tasting menu or stick to menu items. Decisions, decisions...

          1. re: enyc1071

            yeah, me too. im going tonight. im leaning a bit towards the new tasting menu, but ill see what my dining partner wants. whatever i try it ill definitely report back before you go.

            1. re: enyc1071

              the tasting menu consisted of 5 dishes that were all on the menu with the exception of dessert.
              the tasting menu last night was amuse bouche, fois gras mi cuit, portgugese a la plancha, monkfish, arroz de pato, and a banana cream creme brulee (i believe).

              my dining partner didnt want to do the 5 course tasting. instead we had the octupus a la plancha (8.5), monkfish (8), and the arroz de pato (8). For dessert we had sonhos (8) and dark chococate espresso (7). I was glad everything was pretty solid. my dining partner prefered the monkfish over the arroz de pato but i slightly prefered the arroz de pato. the octupus a la plancha reminded a bit of the bbq octupus at babbo (which i think is a 10 dish). the monkfish was cooked perfectly along with all the other seafood items it came in. the sonhos were hot and fried perfectly. if u order them i suggest ordering another desert with ice cream cause the sonhos dunked in ice cream are pretty out of this world.

              1. re: daffyduck

                Thanks for the timely report. I made the mistake of having 2 kati rolls for lunch this afternoon so I may not be able to do the 5 course. Definitely will be having the arroz de pato and the sonhos (with ice cream!) though.

                1. re: enyc1071

                  np, the sonhos dont come with ice cream they come with 3 dipping sauces spiced chocolate, apple cider caramel, and rhubarb compote so you have to order another dessert containing ice cream with it. the arroz de pato is very similiar to fried rice with strips of duck. I personally love fried rice and really enjoyed the texture of the crispy rice my dining companion though wasnt much of a fan.

        2. re: RGR

          that's good to hear that there are no avoids. generally in places that are eclectic that are some misses.

        3. I consider the sea urchin toast a "must have". I order it along with the croquetas in place of an appetizer. The duck rice is not to be missed, and I also love the lamb.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rrems

            im glad u liked the lamb dish. i generally prefer meats to seafood so if my dining partner choose the duck rice ill go for the lamb.

              1. re: daffyduck

                I'll second the lamb and I really thought the octopus appetizer was outstanding and a must have. It was the most memorable part of the meal for me. Perfectly cooked and the grilled flavor of the octopus worked perfectly with the balsamic ink sauce that accompanied it.

            1. We went last night, had the tasting menu with the paired wines, and it didn't knock my socks off. A few notes:

              We did love the arroz con pato, and I would definitely have that if I went back.

              Wasn't so excited about the monkfish cheeks, and the octopus was definitely too chewy for me. I also didn't really think the root beer in the foie gras preparation really worked that well with the rest of the flavors.

              The amuse bouche were strong--an excellent oyster, really tasty lobster gazpacho, decent baccalao croquetta.

              The wine pairings....I haven't had a ton of Portuguese reds, mainly because every time I've had one, I've thought it was just a simple, drinkable wine. It seemed that they went with wines that certainly did pair well with the dishes, but when tasted on their own, were universally wines I wouldn't bother seeking out (I'd give them 85 or 86 ratings).

              So my overall thought was that I'd absolutely advise friends to go for the arroz con pato, but that most of the rest was just solid, not outstanding.

              1. i just got home from aldea...surprisingly, my first time there.

                im hypercritical of restaurants but that being said, my meal was a straight A. service was super friendly but professional, our seats were comfortable, the room inviting. my tempranillo/cabernet blend was fantastic...especially for $45...some great choices on the wine list.

                as for food, i had the foie gras with peanuts and cherries while my girlfriend had the shrimp. her shrimp were excellent. 5 plump large shrimp with a pretty smoky, paprika-esque sauce that i thought tasted fantastic. the foie gras was on the smallish side but an excellent preparation...the best ive had in nyc in some time.

                for entrees, i had the duck rice, she had the scallops. it was actually a perfect pairing. my dish was extremely comforting and dark...hers was summery and light. we nearly split the two. i LOVED my dish. for such a talked about signature dish, i was surprised at how good it was. very comforting fried rice from my youth coupled with probably the best cooked piece of duck ive ever had.

                dessert was a dark chocolate espresso ganache...decent but nothing memorable. my espresso was excellent.

                i have not had a fantastic high end restaurant experience in nyc in 2-3 years. for a newish place, aldea works. im a fan.

                1. Sea urchin toast, duck rice, and sonhos are all must-order, IMO. I liked the food a lot, but we had a bit of service issue, so my S.O. won't go back. One of those days.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: uwsister

                    Perhaps sitting at the chef's counter would help alleviate the worry of another service issue?

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Perhaps. He can be stubborn though. I guess I could always sneak in by myself or bring a friend instead.

                      1. re: uwsister

                        or you can end your relationship.

                        1. re: sam1

                          LOL - alimony-funded dinners, here I come!

                      2. re: kathryn

                        I've sat at the chefs counter twice and had issues. Forgotten courses, incorrect wine poured. Liked some of the food, but service was definitely an issue for me.

                        1. re: UWSEater

                          Yeah, my husband also had his wines forgotten - though we were not sitting at the chef's counter (upstairs, actually.)