Sunday, December 14, 2008
Simple Goodness at Boqueria
Restaurant Name: Boqueria
Location: 53 W. 19th Street, NYC
We popped into Boqueria for what we hoped would be a cheering lunch after a cold, brutal Saturday morning fighting crowds at Herald Square. Things, unfortunately, did not get off to a good start. Even though there were tables open, the hostess asked us to wait while the staff "sorted things out." She gave us a menu and promptly disappeared. As we stood there in the entryway, feeling a little befuddled, we perused Boqueria's offerings. The menu was uninspiring at first glance, almost boring. My husband pulled out his iphone and started searching for another place to try.
The hostess must have sensed the imminent nature of our departure plans because she soon swooped in and took our coats and whisked us to a table. We perched at the raised tables (stools and elevated banquettes serve as seating) and waited for our waitress. She arrived, seeming put-out. But, we were there and we were hungry...so, we gave it a try...and boy were we glad we did!
The food was wonderful - simple, incredibly flavorful, and cleverly constructed. The white bean soup sounded flavorless and boring on the specials board but was extremely slurpable once it arrived all salty and delectable in a glistening pork stock. A dish labeled and described only as "Choripan" turned out to be a delightful sandwich composed of fat coins of spicy chorizo slathered with raisin puree and nestled in a perfect baguette - the salty and sweet offset each other most fabulously. The patatas bravas were crispy (twice fried) home-fry style potatoes tossed with smoked Spanish paprika and drizzled with garlic aioli.
We also tried one of Boqueria's cheese plate offerings - the La Serena, which was a creamy, every-so-slightly bitter soft sheep's milk cheese served with quince paste and a sweet nut and fruit bread. All of this was rounded out with a tall glass of house-made, super-tart (super-good) lemonade for me and a generous pour of Javier Sanz Villa Narcissa Verdejo. This Spanish varietal was new to us - its like a Sauvignon Blanc but with a fuller body. When we asked the waitress more about it, she kindly wrote down not only the varietal and producer but also two shops where we could find it.
In the end, our bill came to about $60 for two (including the tip). The service hiccups at the beginning and the seemingly dull menu initially obscured what turned out to be a great little restaurant and a wonderful meal.
Boqueria also has another location in SoHo.