Monday, January 9th, 201231 W. 17th Street New York, NY 10011
Birthdays are great! So are meals that take you on a journey, which was our hope when we booked Aldea for the Ninth. Aldea, a restaurant we had walked by many times with the same conversation: What hides behind the water-like curtain [that shields the dining room from the street]? Happily, Owner and Chef George Mendes’s Iberian-Peninsula inspired restaurant is contained within.
After a wonderful half bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a few presents , we are off to see what lies behind the curtain. We walk in to find a skinny restaurant that opens up to an exposed kitchen in the back. The hostess shows us immediately to a comfortable booth-and-chair two top that sits against a backlit bamboo wall. The décor is fairly simple with lighting that is a soft white. On this Monday, the dining room is about half-full if you do not include the upstairs, so it appears that on any given Monday you could walk in and find a seat.
Ordering is easy: 5-course prix fixe with wine pairings for $140 a piece. We sit back and relax. The amuse-bouche may as well be another course, an assortment of mussel soup, oyster and a salt cod croquette, all with a delectable glass of sherry. We move on to a glass of sake and an amazing foie gras plate. Sashimi tuna is next with a piece of tasty white fish right behind. The wine perfectly compliments each bite.
Before we know it, we find a beautiful roasted duck papayas before us and are soon spooning the Happy-Birthday dessert of pie and sorbet into our mouths. Okay, we admit, we are getting a little fuzzy at this point, but we manage a 10-minute conversation with George Mendes himself. This is one journey, wine and all, that we will definitely be making again. Thank you George.