Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dinner at Aldea - Chef George Mendes is a star!

George Mendes is a master at his craft. Since my first visit to Aldea I have become a fan of his cooking. After few visits I still can't say one negative word about this wonderful chef, his restaurant, his food or the service team. I could only wish there would be more restaurants like this in New York.

At our last visit we were lucky enough to grab seats at the Chef's Counter which I highly recommend to anyone who would like to witness this well-oiled machine of a kitchen. It is truly remarkable to watch a group of talented individuals under the leadership of Chef Mendes to create and serve delicious food with impressive plating.

Aldea offers some amazing cocktails to start your culinary experience, they are quiet creative and exotic. We had some cocktails at our last visit but this time we opted for the well-selected wine list. Most people may get concerned about the pricing of wine at a restaurant like Aldea but surprisingly you can still find really good deals in this wine list. If you are not familiar with the labels from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and even Greece, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. They are more than happy to help you select a wine for your enjoyment at your price level. We started the evening with a nice bottle of red from Rhone and continued with another bottle of red from Côte de Nuits Villages both from France.

Now here comes the fun part, deciding on food. I just want to mention this; you just can't go wrong with what ever you pick from the menu. Close your eyes and put your finger down anywhere in the menu and you will not be disappointed. We started with the Petiscos which they call them small bites but still good portions; Sea Urchin Toast for $9, Crispy Pork Belly for $9 and Salt Cod Croquettas for $8. Next comes the starters; Lightly-Cured Fluke for $11, Baby Cuttlefish for $14 and Slow-Poached Egg and Smoke Bacon for $17. They were all delicious and each ingredient was expertly put together to enhance the flavor off the whole dish.

For main courses, we decided on: Venison for $27, Arroz de Pato (duck confit) for $24 and Hanger Steak with Beef Cheeks for $27. For those who decides on meat; they will only cook it rare or medium rare so if you like you meat more cooked you should pick a different dish because they will not serve it any more than Medium-Rare to preserve the flavor of the meat. From our seats it looked like other popular dishes were the lamb, cod and monkfish so that's something else to look forward to. Almost forgot you also get a nice little mini soup compliments of the chef while you wait for your food. It was made with fingerling potatoes, black truffle and chanterelles in a artichoke broth.

Finally for dessert we chose the sorbet sampler which was amazing; you get four daily flavors. Then ordered the cheese selection which comes with three different artisanal cheeses with raisin/nut bread and quince paste. Last dessert was the Little Dreams (Sonhos) which is like little pieces of donuts that comes with three different dipping sauces.

Don't forget to take a look at the after dinner drinks if you are in the mood for a glass of sherry, Port, Madeira or any other after-dinner liquors. Our check came out to about $135 each including the food, two bottles of wine, dessert and after dinner drinks so it was an amazing night of indulgence and already looking forward to the next visit.

Aldea
http://www.aldearestaurant.com/

George Mendes
http://www.georgemendesnyc.com/

31 West 17th Street
(between 5th Avenue & Avenue Of The Americas) 
New York, NY 10011
(212) 675-7223

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