Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alta - Tapas in New York's West Village

After a lovely NYC day of brunch, a visit to the MoMa, and mani/pedis, we were ready for a fun evening out on the town.  For dinner my friend CAC made reservations at Alta Restaurant in the West Village, which again did not disappoint!  Somehow we magically got a cab outside our hotel and headed straight out.  It was a cold evening - more windy than the day, which honestly did not seem possible - so I was amazingly delighted with the interior of Alta.  There were at least 2 fireplaces going, with the one in the back of the room in which we were seated looking like it was from the colonial era.  Those, in combination with the big beamed ceilings, the dim lighting and the exposed brick, caused me to warm up immediately upon entering the restaurant. 

Alta had an extensive wine list with a wide variety of prices, so we really relied on our waiter for a recommendation.  When I do this, I always worry about the price range I give because I assume they will go as high as possible.  Instead, our server actually recommended a bottle in the lower price point (the bottom, actually)!  With that we started our first bottle of the evening!

One a few bottles of wine!
Alta is actually a Tapas style restaurant with food of varying influences.  Knowing that we wanted to chat and drag out dinner a bit longer, CAC recommended that we order a few dishes at a time.  The food comes out in a hurry, so before you know it, you could be done with dinner!  We started by ordering about 3 dishes at a time.  Within 5 minutes, the food was arriving at our table - thank goodness for our strategy!
While I attempted to get pictures of everything, I missed out on a few items.

Bacon Wrapped Dates & Olives stuffed with almonds. 
This was in the first round, and we definitely forgot about the olive part and bit right in...for those who love olives it was great!  For me, though, with the exception of olives,anything wrapped in bacon works for me.  I just wished I could taste a bit more of the almond flavor. 

Fried Goat Cheese with lavender infused honey
I honestly do not know what else to say about this dish: if you like goat cheese, you cannot go wrong here.  It's cheese sticks of the highest class.  The honey was great - I definitely had a few more dips of that using only my fork!  One thing that I forgot to get a picture of was the Lamb Meatballs with spiced butternut squash foam, toasted sesame seeds and lebne.  I really could have eaten only those.  They were AMAZING!  They were so good that they disappeared before a photo op.

Sweet Potato Ravioli  with brown butter, hazelnuts, aleppo pepper and sage emulsion
This ravioli dish was interesting.  Believe it or not, under all that foam is a bunch of ravioli (about the size of a quarter) that were pretty good.  But like the presentation, the foam was a but much and a little overpowering for most of us.  AK really enjoyed the foam!

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with fuji apples, crème fraiche and pistachio nuts
These brussel sprouts were amazing.  I typically cannot get over eating what seems like a soggy head of lettuce, but these were so crispy and flavorful.  The apples and the nuts were a surprising addition to the dish.  They did not taste anything like a typical brussel sprout, and I am now officially a convert as long as they are cooked in whatever magic that these were prepared in.

Bruschetta of Spinach & Mascarpone, dried Turkish figs, pine nuts, parmesan & balsamic
I generally do not order bruschetta because of my issue with tomatoes, but this one, again, was not your typical bruschetta, instead of tomatoes there was spinach and it was delicious.

Seared Sea Scallops with parsley root puree, apple cider "caviar", chorizo oil and black olives
These scallops were tasty and cooked really well. 

Pulled Pork Empanadas with sweet spicy cilantro dipping sauce
The empanandas were tasty.  Though the pulled pork had a lot of flavor, the crust did not.  It was a bit greasy and not as flaky as I would have liked, but I enjoyed it overall.

Braised Short Rib of Beef Beet-Barbaresco taglierini and fresh grated horseradish
Unknowingly we saved the best for last.  There was no knife necessary to eat this pork.  It literally fell apart merely using your fork.  The meat itself had so much delicious flavor.  While I generally do not like beets, the pasta was great.  Whatever else they mixed the beet with really complemented the flavor and changed it up enough to add something extra. 

As you can see, I loved basically everything about this restaurant.  It was a fantastic meal and great company.  It was a lot of fun to be able to try a bunch of smaller dishes while enjoying a nice bottle of wine. 
The server was relatively nice about letting us sit.  It was not until we finally started tapering off the food ordering and were ready to move on did they start trying to get us to move.  At that point we needed the push!
I would highly recommend going to Alta for a great dinner. 

Alta on Urbanspoon

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