August 21, 2011

Tapas in the East Village

Tapas are one of my favorite types of food. I have always loved Spanish food in general and I adore the ritual of sharing and eating a variety of little bites. When I flew professionally I had the opportunity to go to Spain on many occasions and enjoyed my short visits to this country. Then when my husband and I lived in San Francisco there were two wonderful Spanish tapas restaurants I liked to go to - Alegrias and Zarzuela. Both of these restaurants serve traditional tapas in a homey atmosphere and reminded me of being back in Spain. Now that we live in Washington, DC I have yet to find a similar place in my new home town. So, when we were planning our trip to New York City, having dinner at a good, authentic tapas restaurant was high on my list of must dos.

Fast forward from the planning stages of our adventure to a Friday evening in New York City. Jonathan and I took the L train towards the East Village to meet friends at Pata Negra. (I selected this restaurant based on a reviews and recommendations from Yelp.)

Pata Negra is a cozy little tapas restaurant with only a few tables. The night we were there it was a lovely summer evening and the windows were open to the street. It is a simple and welcoming place.

But, on to the important part - the food and wine. We ordered a variety of different dishes, some cheese and meat, and a bottle of wine to share. First we received olives and marcona almonds. Soon after the gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic) and the cheeses and meats arrived. Lastly, we got the tortilla and an order of morcilla (blood sausage).

All the cheeses were lovely - nutty and delicious. But, I love cheese! The olives were also good - firm and delicately spiced. The shrimp came out in small earthenware dishes, fragrant and steaming. (And they were very tasty too.) I can not personally vouch for the meats or morcilla, but my dining companions enjoyed them immensely. Of course the charcuterie included jamon (ham) from the restaurant’s namesake, the black-footed Iberian pig. I did thoroughly enjoyed the tortilla and the almonds.

For wine to accompany our food we shared a Rioja and a Monastrell. Both wines were very good and and paired perfectly with the food. The wines at Pata Negra are excellent quality for the price.

And to complete the meal, Chef Mateo came out from the kitchen to check on us and thank us for coming to his restaurant. It was an unexpected and kind gesture that made our visit to his restaurant even more delightful.

So, how do I sum up our meal at Pata Negra? The atmosphere was friendly and dining here was fun. The food was wonderful - comforting, delicious, and - most importantly - reminded me of of being back in Spain. I just wish this restaurant was not in the East Village in New York, but in my neighborhood in Washington, DC...

Thanks for a wonderful meal Mateo!


Bethany said...

Ahhhhh...jamon and Rioja... You just made my night. You also just made my current dinner suddenly bland and sad. Oh, for the days of jamon and Rioja. Good review!

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Gosh, you make me want to try it now.