Aldea Makes its Way to the Top of the List

George Mendes’ Michelin Starred restaurant Aldea has been on my list for awhile, but, as many upscale restaurants tend to do, kept sinking to the bottom. This isn’t the type of restaurant you just happen to walk into on a Wednesday night. 
 This is a reservation-worthy, get your high heels on, skip lunch sort of place. And I did all those things (Well, let’s be honest…didn’t wear heels) when I arrived for my reservation.
 The extremely affable hostess asked if we would like to be seated at the chef’s counter – yes, please! We walked through the small, muted dining room and sat at a sushi bar in front of all the chefs. We literally got to watch the staff of a Michelin-starred restaurant at work. This was like my version of watching an adult film – I was intrigued, I was paying attention and I was most DEFINITELY excited. 
 Olive Baguette and Bacon Fat Cornbread. 
The olive baguette was exemplary – sour, crusty and studded with moist, slightly bitter green olives – but the cornbread was something else altogether. Crumbly, soft but not mushy and with a pervasive smoky taste and aroma. Not specifically bacon-y, but so hearty and meaty with that deeply porky taste pervading throughout. Clearly, I ate it all.
 Caphirena Macaron
Crispy, minty macarons melded with a sweet and potent alcoholic snow cone. Cooling with the mint and crunchy with the macaron, it melted in my mouth leaving behind the tang of alcohol and the promise of a great meal to come.
 Gaspacho
A classic version of the Mediterranean soup. Smooth, creamy, acidic and sweet with tomatoes and a ton of sherry vinegar. The vinegar was cut by a ball of spherical mozzarella that was liquid on the inside, its creaminess melding with the bite of the sherry vinegar. Not as transcendent as the version at M. Wells, but I could still drink a gallon of this. 
 Cured Foie Gras with Market Peaches, Lemon Verbena and Almonds.
Smooth, rich foie gras that tasted even sweeter with the flecks of salt. Crunchy almonds broke up the creaminess of the foie, and the peaches were satiny and bright, punching up the meaty flavor of the liver. The lemon verbena was judiciously used, so it wasn’t like eating a mouthful of perfume, just a gentle hit of the herb to bring a fragrant note to the rich dish. 
 Shrimp with Garlic, Coriander, Razor Clams and Trout Roe.
This was the one dish of the meal that I was not crazy about. Loved the shrimp – obviously oil poached and so tender they were almost liquid. Loved the trout roe, gently salty and pleasantly sticky. Loved the garlicky, pungent broth. But those razor clams…I just couldn’t get past them. They had a very fishy, iodine-y taste to them. Too bad, because the rest of the dish was very tasty, but the razor clams just didn’t do it for me. 
Arroz De Pato with Duck Confit, Chorizo, Cracklings, Olives and Tangerines.
 My paella kick continues and this just might be my favorite one. The rice was so creamy, so rich, so redolent of  citrus and the salty kick of olives. The duck confit was juicy and tender and the chorizo was fragrant with garlic and fatty pork. The cracklings were like pork scented potato chips – crispy, shattering in the mouth, contrasting with the melting texture of the confit and the total creaminess of the rice. If you come here for just one dish, come here for this.  Our server said it was her favorite and man…she has great taste. 
 Passion fruit Tart with Coconut Ice Cream and Caramelized Bananas. 
Oh yes. Sweet, tart passion fruit. Dark, slightly bitter chocolate. Fluffy, light mousse next to crisp, decadent crust. A sorbet so rich it seemed to be made entirely of cream. 
And bananas…don’t worry, I didn’t eat those. 
But I did eat these cranberry mignardises. Sweet, tangy and the perfect way to end the meal. 
And what a meal it was! Portuguese food evidently focuses on strong, fresh, zesty flavors, because that’s what this whole meal was. Wonderful service, fair prices and delicious food made the night one to remember. And let’s not forget the fact that you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs prepare your food. I could just watch the way that they cut vegetables into tiny even dices for hours. Maybe that’s just me…but its also a great way to not have to talk to your dinner date!
Of course, if I was your dinner date, all I would be doing was talking about how fab this meal was. 
And all that from something that got pushed down on my list. 

Comments

  1. JustinM says:

    This looks much better than any adult film I've ever seen… and I've seen a lot!

  2. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin-Well, then, I know that is high praise indeed

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