Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Posted by Endorphin Seeker at 5:54 PM
I just had a big weekend of eating out. I have always had a keen interest in fine dining and trying new restaurants. It is not just about the food, it is about the experience. I am fairly easy to please, however, but find myself naturally taking note of the timing of the dish presentation, the ambience and feel of the restaurant, obviously, the taste of the food and, most importantly, is there anything with peanut butter on the dessert menu.
I used to keep restaurant journals and every new restaurant I tried I would fill out my book, attaching the restaurant’s business card to the top of the page, and then meticulously filling out all of the spaces in my journal in order to describe the menu, the ambience, the staff, the décor and any additional notes regarding observations I had made. My additional notes would usually include some sort of funny anecdote that had occurred during the visit. For example, “The couple sitting next to us was very entertaining. The male appeared to break up with the female prior to their main course, at which point, said female started crying. As their dishes are presented, said female sniffled and wept into her Sesame-encrusted Teriyaki Tuna (which, by the way, was seared to perfection, maintaining that lovely rareness throughout its center).” The lesson learned from this heart-breaking scene is to never, never initiate a break up prior to coffee and dessert. My point being is that eating out is not necessarily always about the food, rather enjoying the experience and maybe learning a lesson or two along the way.
The weekend kicked off with a Friday night dinner at the very popular spanish tapas restaurant, Amada. My girlfriend and I made reservations weeks in advance, which is highly necessary to secure a prime-time weekend table at this hot spot. I love writing in restaurant-review style, so bare with me here. I have been here a couple other times, but this time I was lucky enough to get a table in the cozier and more intimate back lounge of the restaurant. The vibe is quieter in the back and furnished with comfortable couches and cool little nooks for dining. Of course if you are looking to “be seen” you may be more inclined to sit in the front dining room. Granted I had some hot denim on from a local designer’s line at Very Bad Horse, and would not have minded showing them off a little, but at the end of the day, nobody is really going to be paying attention to my jeans, because Jose Garces steals the show with his Latin innovations. (Allow me to interject, I feel like I should be getting some sort of props for these accolades I am shooting out left and right.)
My friend and I decided to go with the chef’s tasting menu, primarily because we could not understand anything on the menu and wanted to avoid a lengthy debate on whether we should go with the “Pernil Asado” or the “Mollejas con Guisantes”, which clearly made no sense to us at all; however, for the record, the former is roasted pork and the latter are sweetbreads. Every dish we had was like a new culinary adventure and an explosion of unique flavors to the palate, leaving my friend sprawled on the couch of which she was sitting and me, loosening the laces on my Very Bad Horse jeans. (Props, please.) We topped the meal off with a serving of the crème fraîche ice cream, the flavor hinting of cheesecake. It was the perfect meal-ender, despite the absence of my usual preference for peanut butter. Overall, it was my best experience to date at Amada and has me craving more of Garces’ delectableness. If I were filling in my restaurant journal the night’s observation would be “Don’t allow your date to join you on the couch to snuggle and give you gross little cheek kisses in the middle of your dinner because the table right next to you will probably be making fun of you.” Needless to say, the couple next to us kept my friend and I partially entertained in between courses. Stay tuned for my Parisian escape to Stephen Starr's Parc.