March 29, 2012 § 4 Comments
Of all the places in the world, Spain is the country I want to visit most. Barcelona, San Sebastien, Valencia, Madrid – they all sound like food-lovers’ paradises to me, with their beautiful and vibrant markets, fresh seafood, and ubiquitous tapas bars and cider joints. Tertulia is a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now. The chef, Seamus Mullen, has gotten great reviews from the New York Times and NYMag, and looking at the menu, I like that he sticks with traditional Spanish fare and does it very well instead of trying to twist it into something super modern. Another testament to the food? The fact that other chefs – like Mario Batali’s Iron Chef America sous chef, Anne Burrell (peeking at the camera in the first photo) – enjoy dining there on their off time. By the way, I was taking a picture of the interior and totally not being a creepster.
In an effort to eat (a lot) more vegetables lately, Laura and I started with the pimientos de padron – fried Shishito peppers with lots of sea salt – and the nuestras patatas – crispy potatoes with pimenton de la Vera and garlic all i oli. Holy crap, both of these dishes were so effing good. I would have been satisfied with these alone. The peppers were blistered and slightly sweet, and they had the crispness of a perfectly blanched green bean. Of course, tossing them in sea salt added exponentially to their flavor. Out of about 16 on our plate, I managed to get the only spicy one.
As for the spuds, I couldn’t figure out if they were fried or roasted, because these potatoes were expertly seasoned, super crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside without any grease, and the all i oli was out of this world – garlicky and rich. Laura and I scraped up every last drop.
Our favorite dish by far, however, were the croquettes de jamon. Chef Mullen mixes scraps of prized jamon Iberico into his creamy bechamel and then quickly drops them in oil to give these babies the texture of fried soup, velvety and lovely on the inside. To make them even better, they come served with membrillo sauce, made of the quince fruit, and the sauce’s tartness cuts the luxuriousness of the croquette.
Our final dish were the crispy brussel sprouts with pork belly and mojo picon, a Spanish red pepper sauce. Our one, very small, gripe with this was the almost excessive use of vinegar which had us occasionally puckering our lips, but this was still an excellent take on sprouts, and I would still order it again.
So there you have it – a Spanish gem in the Washington Square Park area. It’s good that I don’t live in the neighborhood (yet), because I’d come here all the time, especially after a long day at work when I need a good glass of wine and some soul-warming food. Next time I visit, I plan on just ordering the classics – unadulterated jamon Iberico, boquerones, and pan con tomate – but this was a great vegetable-oriented introduction to Tertulia and fueled us for an entire afternoon’s worth of shopping in downtown Manhattan.
359 6th Avenue
New York, NY