Sunday, February 6, 2011

Basque-ing in Glory

Another restaurant week adventure – my husband and I wanted to check out the newest China Grill Management restaurant, Bar Basque.  They specialize in Spanish / Basque cuisine.  Having just opened in October 2010, we figured they had to have a good restaurant week menu to woo in new clientele.  And that they did.  They had a comprehensive menu with a lot of options coming straight off their normal menu.  

Often times (or it seems so to me), restaurants tend to haphazardly throw together dishes specifically for the restaurant week menu, only to turn off diners with their mediocrity.  In my past experience, restaurants that stay true to their normal menu are far more successful and leave customers with a positive impression. 

Appetizers: Out of this world!  Can I have another?

Crispy farm egg, olive oil crushed potatoes, peppers, Serrano ham, cheese broth:  Allow me to explain.  To make this simple culinary masterpiece, the chef takes a soft-boiled egg, rolls it in a breadcrumb coating, and finally deep fries it to produce that golden crispy exterior.  Delightful.  The “cheese broth” was very light and a pleasant accompaniment to the egg and the Serrano ham added a nice salty touch to the dish.  I could eat this for breakfast every day.

Entrees:  Impressive.

Basque Paella, chorizo, chicken, peppers: The rice had an almost creamy texture to it verging on risotto.  I loved the smoky flavor from the chorizo, and the chicken was so juicy and tender.  They had one large piece of chicken with perfectly crisp skin and the rest was thinly sliced along the plate.  They paella came out on a hot plate that was still sizzling so that the rice was crisping up on the bottom…I may have managed to scrape it off and finish the entire plate.

Golden Snapper, parsley & white wine sauce, clams, potatoes:  My husband was deciding between the short ribs and the snapper – we asked the waiter which one he preferred, and he highly recommended the snapper.  The snapper is one of their specialties, whereas the short ribs is something you can order anywhere.  It didn’t fail to impress - the snapper was perfectly cooked and paired well with the white wine sauce.  

Desserts:  Not the best I’ve had, but they were a nice end to a great meal.  We ended up packing our desserts to go because we were so full from the first two courses…and then ended up consuming them immediately upon our arrival home. 

Chocolate Flan, port dry cherries, chocolate dip cigarillo de Tolosa:  The chocolate flan was very rich and had a smooth velvety texture.  The chocolate dipped cigar added a nice crunch to the dessert, but I could have done without the port dry cherries.  They were like glorified raisins – I ate those first so I could focus on the chocolaty goodness remaining.  
Torta de Santiago, Meyer lemon curd, honey ice cream: A fancy lemon tart.  The lemon curd was very good, and my husband liked how they were generous with it so that you would be able to have some with every bite.  We didn’t get to sample the honey ice cream since we had taken dessert to go, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have made a huge difference.

Service: Very attentive.  Even as we walked to our table to be seated, other waiters / staff members greeted us as we passed by.  We had dinner at 6:30pm so there weren’t as many tables seated, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that our waiter was constantly checking on us to make sure we were ok, answered any questions we had, and made sure our water never ran dry.

Ambience: Modern hip.  Bar Basque is on the second floor of Eventi, a Kimpton hotel, so from that we already knew the restaurant would be pretty swanky.  Aside from the dining area, there was a bar / lounge seating area that looked like it would be a good option for after work drinks. 

Score: 4 out of 5 piggies. Overall, I was really impressed by Bar Basque.  They had the full package with great service, ambience, and most importantly, amazing food.  To top it off, they ended the meal by giving us a voucher for $25 to use towards any of their other China Grill Management restaurants.  I don’t know if I should interpret that as meaning their restaurants aren’t doing so well, so they’re offering this to diners, but whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter.  I plan on using it at Ed’s Chowder House!    

Bar Basque
839 Avenue of the Americas (between 29th and 30th)
New York, NY 10001
(646) 600-7150


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