Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aldea (Manhattan) 01/2011

The winter tasting menu here started, as most of them do, with an amuse bouche, which was beautifully presented.
The chef asked me not to use flash so pic's are not too good. The first course, fingerling potato soup with Santa Barbera sea urchin and black truffle
worked extremely well. Sea urchin, which can be overwhelming, was gently blended with the other tastes of the soup. Baby calamari 'a la Planche, market spaghetti, squash,shell fish jus, squid ink took longer to type than to eat. It was a small delight.
Another delicate dish but only about a quarter as much as I would have liked, Diver scallop
was also beautifully presented and prepared, resting on a stew of razor clams, leeks, fennel and saffron. Again this would be OK as part of a 10 course meal but was a meager serve on this five course degustation. The last main was only slightly larger. A duck confit, chorizo, olive and duck crackling.
Seasoning, which can easily ruin this dish, was very subtle with no dominating taste. A pre dessert palate cleanser
preceded the dessert which was a banana custard brulee with caramelized rice, lemon, chicory ice cream. At a time when a lot of chefs are using coffee and coffee beans for flavour, which I don't like in food, I see little reason for using chicory, which replaced real coffee at times of scarcity.
This was a very interesting meal, supposedly Portuguese influenced. Service was pleasant, except for the chef who seemed unbothered when another patron took multiple photo's, with flash.
The place is quite small and innocuously furnished with a small bar at the far end in front of an open kitchen.
Whilst the food was good it was too expensive at $85/ head before wine, taxes and gratuity. Well over a $100 with all that.
Score 13.75/20

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