Considering this is an out-of-towner spot, I’ve always succeeded in avoiding the middle class girls night outs mingling with suits who borrow their bosses gold card to take mid-range clients out for margs and apps. Ok, I was dragged here once before and suffered though an off menu vegetarian item I fondly remember as “enchilada slop.” So needless to say, when my Jersey friends made reservations I was… eh… underwhelmed.
But my apathy was squelched by the heavy cast iron pan of pure melted cheese that is the remarkable Cazuela De Queso Fundido! You heard me! This ain’t not soupy fondue, it’s a big pan of fillerless molten cheese! Eat it fast before it solidifies… don’t worry, the heart attack is totally worth it!
What’s not worth it?! The Guacamole! There is certainly nothing wrong with it beside the ginormous (which contrary to what spell-check and my BF is telling me, is a real world, look it up here) price tag $12 for a two mashed up avocados with some fillers, bleah!
Back to the good stuff, the starter menu has three empanadas, all of which are vegetarian! My fondness of sweet/savory drove me directly into the Roasted Plantain Empanadas with a dusty sprinkeling of cotija cheese, and chipotle aioli – but beware I’m quite sure I tasted bacon in the aioli, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t state this (or scream it form the mountain tops) since currently bacon is the trendiest ingredient in the mofo’ing country right now.
If the possible bacon sighting scares you, another option is the Butternut Squash Empanadas resting in a puddle of mole negro and only a vague notion of the toasted pepitas the menu promises.
On this particular evening the special included an untraditional take on the Ensalada de Navidad, a simple lightly dressed green salad with fruits and goat cheese.
If you’re vegetarian, and you looked over the menu, then you probably already know that you will be eating the Farmer’s Market Vegetable Quesadilla. The zucchini mushrooms and whatever are layered with fried tortillas and chihuahua cheese then decorated with roasted tomato-arbol salsa and a pale green flavorless sauce. It’s a standard “grilled vegetable quesadilla” hiding behind a not even that fancy presentation. It comes with a take it or leave it side of rice and beans, but if you are smart enough to avoid this overpriced hodgepodge, then just order an appetizer and a side as your entree. (Meat ahead…)
But whatever my dish lacked in plate-appeal was found in the Pollo a la Plancha – roasted chicken over saffron noodles with green beans and edamame (I found the edamame a strange choice too)
A better take on my previous off menu “slop” is the on menu chicken Dos Enchiladas with a charming radish fringe cap.
Other pretty dishes were the Camarones En Cazuela – jumbo shrimp over saffron chorizo rice and the Cochinita Pibil – yucatecan pork with pickled red onions both of which where heartily eaten by my Jersey friends.
I put back a few mellow Blueberry Pomegranate Margaritas which I probably would have skipped if someone else wasn’t picking up the bill. While I was not in the right company to steal a sip of the White Sangria, the fruit running asymmetrically up the side was a lovely presentation. The waiter also concocted a lovely Non-Alcoholic cocktail which tasted like fancy juice because that’s exactly what it was.
After all that we attempted to reject the desert menus, but they were laid down before us and we couldn’t deny that we all wanted the White & Dark Chocolate Fondue served with churros, brownies, passion fruit marshmallows and fruits. If you eat marshmallows then the passion fruit infused ones here will knock your socks off… no chocolate required!
373 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10016