Portuguese cuisine is not too popular in NYC. Portuguese fusion cuisine might not exist at all, if it weren't for chef George Mendes and his amazing, sleek restaurant, Aldea.
I had been to Aldea a while ago, after it first opened, and had a great meal, but did not have my camera with me. (Also, at that first experience at Aldea, Frank Bruni, the former food critic for the NY Times was sitting at a table behind me, and he gave it two enthusiastic stars.) So, this past Friday, I stopped in for a bite, with my Canon PowerShot in tow, and not only was I satisfied with George's great fare, I was ecstatic about it!
A "small bite" of sea urchin toast ($9), with cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, and lime was mind-blowing. What I like to call "the perfect bite", the flavor and texture worked so harmoniously well together, it was a truly inspired and fabulous start.
Creekston Farm's Hanger Steak ($27), with smoked yucca fries, caramelized lychee puree,
piri-piri pepper, was great! The steak was perfectly cooked and delicious. The flavor combination was both unique and wonderful. The yucca fries were amazing! Definitely the best yucca fries I had ever eaten, and some of the best fries in all of NYC!
One of my favorite dishes in NYC is George's Arroz De Pato ($24), duck confit, chorizo, olive, and duck cracklings. This takes paella to another level, and is the best meat and rice dish out there! The saltiness and flavor of the duck is addictively good. I dream one day of everyone having the opportunity to try this dish, oh, and also for World Peace.
A dessert of Dark Chocolate/Espresso ($10) with vanilla-poached mango, and cardamom ice cream was wonderful! I couldn't think of a better way to end an amazing meal. The touch of tiny homemade rice crispy balls placed on some mango was ingenious too. Also, three petit fours were splendid!
So, for one of NYC's best restaurants, Aldea delivers. It is sleek and modern, has perfectly executed Portuguese fusion cuisine, and is all-round wonderful! Take a trip to 17th Street and say Olå to Aldea.
31 West 17th Street (bet. 5th and 6th)
New York, NY 10011