When reading through the list of new restaurants offering specials for Restaurant Week, I was thrilled to see that Chef Jose Garces' new restaurant downtown, Amada, was included. I adore Chef Garces' Chicago restaurant Mercat a la Planxa, of which there are several reviews on my blog. I was alerted to his new restaurant in Battery Park City last summer, but hadn't been able to get there yet. Happily, yesterday was the day (and for Restaurant Week, yet)!
My boss also loved eating at Mercat, so I invited him to tag along to Amada. It's a bit of a trek to get there, much further downtown and further west than I was expecting, but once we got there, all was well. It's a lovely spot, very airy and warm, with a nice amount of banquettes and tables that make you feel cozy but not cramped. We had an end booth, so there was extra space for coats and my handbag; that was nice. The ceilings are very high, but the sound has a good hum, instead of a loud bounce. And there was very pleasant Spanish guitar music playing in the background. The ambiance was terrific.
The Restaurant Week menu is great - there are so many choices, it was hard to decide! I couldn't decide if I wanted to go all-protein, or add salads, or just stick with grilled things. Finally, since a tapas meal is served to share, my boss and I just chose different things that we could share and get to experience more of the menu. For my appetizer, I got the tortilla espanol, which is one of my favorite things, an egg and potato omelet. Yum. It was served with a delicious saffron aioli. It wasn't my boss' favorite dish, but that was ok, I got more! My boss chose the jamon croquetas for his appetizer. Boy, were they good! They were small, but stuffed full of ham and cheese, and served on top of an amazing romesco sauce. SO good.
We could each choose TWO second course plates, which was like hitting the jackpot! I picked the hangar steak a la planxa, served medium with a wonderful chimichurri sauce, and the garlic shrimp, served with toast points. Extremely yummy, though I confess to liking the beef more than the shrimp. My boss chose the chorizo a la planxa and a short rib dish, served on flatbread with horseradish, parmesan, and bacon jam. Jeepers, that was AMAZING. Talk about having every taste sensation on one plate! Delicious. The chorizo was good, too, charred and rich, but paled next to the short ribs. I couldn't finish all my food because I wanted to save room for dessert, but boy was it all wonderful.
When we were ordering dessert, since there were only two dessert choices, we knew we would just each get a different one and share. My boss wanted 'his' dessert to be the tocinillo de cielo, a heavenly something-or-other with egg cream, vanilla cake, orange meringue, and pistachio, and he wanted 'my' dessert to be the tarta de chocolata, a chocolate tart with cocoa sablée, coffee and chocolate cream. They arrived, beautifully presented in small glass cups, but after my boss tried his tocinillo, he wanted to switch. He didn't enjoy the consistency of the orange meringue, whereas I found it incredible. I was happy to switch. The bite I had of the chocolate tart was also yummy, but the tocinillo was, to me, perfection after that lunch. The egg cream was rich, the vanilla cake wasn't too sweet and it got a little bit soft sitting in the custard, and the orange meringue was just one of the most delicious things ever, a little bit sweet and a little bit sour and the tiniest bit bitter from the orange rind shavings on top. I loved it.
So thumbs way WAY up on Amada. I totally want to go back - the food there is so good and the service so pleasant that it would be worth the cost to go even when it's not Restaurant Week. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to pay a discounted price for that delicious meal, but it's worth way more. Maybe for my birthday? Hmmm. And I think I may take my mom the next time she's in town... Two more Restaurant Week visits for this go-round and I'm so looking forward to them both! I also have a couple of shows coming up, plus a trip to D.C. on the horizon, so you'll be hearing more from me soon. :)