Fred and I had a school event last night in Chelsea. Afterward, we didn't have reservations anywhere but figured we would just magically show up at a great restaurant and get a seat at the bar. NOT.
We left Chelsea and first stopped at Tia Pol on 10th Avenue and 22nd. Totally packed. Every seat, including the bar seats, are only seated by the host. Bummer. No scouting out the people leaving the bar. The seats have been slated for.
Hmmm. Where next? We walked down to Del Posto since the bar is generally not that packed. No longer. The place was humming. Now that there is a cafe area in the bar, it is like two restaurants in one. Quiet, sedate and serene on one side, a total scene on the other. One major bummer is they do not serve food at the bar. So, unless we planned on just drinking and eating peanuts we were out of luck. Next.
We grabbed a cab and headed over to Gusto. At this point I was really getting hungry. The bar scene was hopping and so was the restaurant. We tried to be strategic for awhile. Everything looked so good that I was starting to think about what to order. We realized very quickly that we were being out maneuvered at the bar so we left. Ugh. Note to self, going back to Gusto sooner than later.
Next stop was Tasca. Tasca had opened a few weeks ago and I wanted to check it out. Also packed but we went in and asked if there was any spots available for two. Lucky for us, there was literally one table left and we took it. The bar stool was not happening for us tonight.
The menu is straight out of Spain. Lots of tapas and a few main courses. A pretty extensive list of Spanish wines and of course, sangria. Honestly not a lot on the menu turned us on. I think we were thinking Italian at this point not Spanish. We ordered four different tapas and were told that they were out of 2 of them. I don't think they were expecting so much business so quickly. What else could it be? Our expectations were low.
We started out with grilled octopus and a raw tuna dish. This comes along side with a small bowl of baked pita chips, a white bean dip and a few olives. The grilled octopus was delicious. Small little pieces of octopus, grilled and spicy with a handful of arugula on top. The other dish was sliced raw tuna that had been dressed with an olive oil red orange sauce and a mound of thinly shaved fennel mixed with mint on top. Really good. An interesting combo of flavors and fresh. At this point, we opted to try a few others.
Ceviche that was spicy and served in a small cup on a medium sized plate covered with spicy popcorn. Clever and tasty. The other was sliced tomato with poached tuna pieces on top. All good. We just weren't in the mood for meat but the lamb dish looked interesting.
The service is exceptional. The tapas come out of the kitchen as fast as Chinese take-out. A great place for a group to have a tasting fest. Well priced too. I might have to go back and order the paella. Good paealla is not that easy to come by. All and all we were really pleasantly surprised.
On the way out I noticed that there was a laminated card of a review that was of there place. The review was from UrbanDaddy, a lifestyle blog that focuses on food, trends, clubs etc.basically for New York and Los Angeles. But I loved that Tasca had presented a review from a blog vs. a review from the New York Times or a typical media publication. Just shows you, times are a changing.