Last week, I was invited to an event organized by Tabelog, a restaurant review site that is conquering the US and where lots of bloggers contribute, posting amazing photos of food that make me drool each time I visit it. This time was at Andanada 141, the Michelin-starred Spanish tapas restaurant located on the Upper West Side. As always, the event was perfectly organized, giving us the opportunity to meet with the Chef, Manuel Berganza who prepared a delicious meal for us, straight from the menu.
The restaurant itself is great: spacious bar area, very colorful with some green lightning, a cozy dining room as well as a room in the back perfect for private parties, with a glass canopy opening it like a garden and with a view to the wine cellar.
The name of the restaurant refers to the highest seating area in a bullfighting arena, a reference to the culture in Spain, culture that is present on the menu, although Chef Berganza, gives his own touch to it, giving traditional dishes a modern twist. We started off our culinary experience with a butternut squash cream that was light and a good way to prepare our palates.
Then we got:
Airbags con Queso Manchego y Membrillo or airbags with Manchego Cheese and Quince:
This is a fun one bite, the cheese popping in your mouth, but I admit I did not notice the quince in it...
Purple endive with a blue cheese spread:
I liked it, not only because of the vibrant colors, but also because of taste itself, endive being often paired with roquefort or blue cheese in French cuisine.
Nidos de Codorniz or potato nest with chicken liver pâté topped with a soft boiled quail egg:
This was a spectacular presentation and we kept taking photos of it. Taste wise, it was sublime, the potato part of the dish being crunchy and delightfully greasy, pairing perfectly with the quail egg that had a soft yolk and the chicken liver pate that was delicious.
Spanish bread and olive oil, similar to focaccia, but without anything such as herbs to top it.
Champiñones Rellenos or marinated mushrooms over a duxelle croquette:
This was a tough dish in a way, as the main color is brown, that is difficult to make appetizing. So, the playful plating helped, making it similar to mushrooms sitting on dirt (we could not find what this was and hopefully it was edible considering we all tasted it). Taste wise, it was very good, slightly crunchy and bursting of mushroom flavor.
Bravas "Tradición" or crispy potatoes with aioli and two choices of brava sauce:
This is their version of papas bravas, a traditional tapas dish. I liked it, the potatoes being not only crispy, but also cooked all the way through. The aioli was also good, the garlic not being overpowering and the sauces nice, one being spicy, but to be honest, not so much...
Alcachofas con Queso Manchego or fried Navarra artichokes with grated 12-‐month Manchego cheese:
I never had fried artichoke before and, although I appreciated the crispiness of it, it was my least favorite dish. I preferred the Coles de Bruselas or deep fried Brussels sprouts over it (it was served with a delicious romesco sauce):
Pulpo a la Gallega or mosaic of octopus over a potato foam and rapini (broccoli rabe):
The presentation of this dish was stunning and I was looking forward to try. But it was ok, the octopus being too soft: I like a bit of bite to it.
Albóndigas con Encurtidos or Iberian “bellota” meatballs with pickles, trinxat and carrot textures
This was another beautiful presentation and it definitely delivered: the meatball was flavorful and not dry at all; the trinxat, that is typically made with potatoes, cabbage and pork meat was delicious, and the carrot puree, wrapped into a carrot sheet was exquisite.
Berenjena, Calamares y Ajo Blanco or roasted eggplant with al-‐andalus spices, “ajo blanco” and calamari romana style:
Ajo blanco is a Spanish cold soup made of bread, crushed almonds, garlic, water, olive oil, salt and sometimes vinegar. I think it was interesting to use it like a sauce to accompany an eggplant mousse that gave some smokiness to the dish, as well as a perfectly fried calamari.
Ensaladilla de Salmón or marinated salmon tartar over a potato salad with smoked oil:
I liked this dish that was a fusion between a salmon tartare and an egg and potato salad.
Paella de Mariscos or market fish, shrimp, calamari, mussels, cockles:
This was the hit of the evening: not only the colors were sublime, but it was an amazing dish. I cannot believe that they only cook it for 25 minutes according to the Chef! It might be that the layer of rice is fine, cooking in this paella skillet that gives it a delicious and tasty crust. You could definitely taste the fact that it is not assembled at the last minute, the rice having so much flavor. Know that if you are vegetarian, you can opt for the vegetarian paella that does not have the same effect on the eyes than this one...
I should mention that, with my meal, I drank some sangria (without any fruits in it) as well as some red wine, a Sommelier Serie Rioja.
Last was dessert that I savored with a cortado, a sort of macchiato coffee.
The first one was Tarta de Santiago or traditional almond cake with raspberries and extra virgin olive oil gelato. I love almond cake and this was very good, the gelato having a very subtle olive oil taste and pairing well with the cake.
The second one was Tocinillo de Cielo or caramelized yolk flan with lemon gel, green apple and dried meringue. Delicious and not too sweet, you could definitely taste the lemon and apple. I just wish there was more...
I really had a good time and some good food at Andanada. Tabelog has once again organized a great event that brings together a community of food bloggers that I enjoy: after all, food might be the only topic that does not end with a fight. What, you disagree?
Enjoy (I did)!
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