Our last dinner in NY at ESTELA (estelanyc.com) brought us to East Houston Street where this small narrow restaurant can be easily missed as it is a 1/2 flight up. The huge front window was open and facing the street which scared me as the temperatures were still warm and they seemed to have no air. It was not perfectly comfortable where we were near the rear, but it was quieter than the front bar area. It's a small unassuming spot with wooden tables, chairs and bar. Even the menu is simple and they serve only organic sodas like ginger ale and ginger beer, so forget your Coke here. Luckily Sam likes Ginger Beer.
I have to mention the bathroom only because it was clean and had nice aromatic spray and hand soap which one often finds lacking in even a good dining establishment these days.
We bypassed the cocktails and Zwan, the sommelieuse was a great help guiding us to a novel French wine from Ardeche called Chasselas by Pierre Gonon 2014 that was deliciously creamy and full of earthy tones. What a superb choice it was with all the starters from the tasty Peter's Point Oysters with yuzu kosho mignonette to the tasty Beef Tartare with Crispy Sunchokes, Onions, Capers and Mustard served with toasted sourdough. Sam insisted on having his own even though the idea is to share here. Burrata with Salsa Verde and charred bread was pretty and served with a sweet potato leaf, and while it was nice, I can always have burrata at home of fine quality for so much less. The salsa verde however was more akin to a Mexican JUGO Verde as it was quite thin but also very vegetable-y and not spicy at all. Samuel loves mozzarella, but refuses to try burrata which I like to call mozzarella on steroids.
For his "main" Sam chose the Steak with Spicy Marmalade, Potatoes and Taleggio cheese, and while he offered me a taste of the marmalade, no steak was forthcoming for me to comment on here.
Will and I chose four superb dishes. First was Fried Arroz Negro with Squid & Romesco that would win a prize anywhere. Our server Siobhan suggested this as her first choice, and whle she seemed to not be feeling too well, this was a spot on hit.
Swordfish with Heart of Palm (sliced in thin long shavings) and Meyer Lemon that was like a chunky glaze we loved.
We had switched to an amazing red thanks to Zwan and fell in love with a Pinot from Lombardy in Italy called 'Ca' Fracia Valtellina Superiore from Balgera that was a 2000 vintage full of amazing earth tones and again superb pairing with all our rich dishes.
Ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo indeed had a super rich sauce that was divine. Our final Pork (fotos on FB) with Burnt Cucumbers and leeks was a nice change from the regular pork dishes one sees so often.
For dessert Will ordered the novel Parsnip Ice Cream with Sesame & Caramel which was nice and I had the (surprise) cheese which was a winner of a plate with
Fromage d'Affinois -that creamy super rich brie from Rhone Alps
Gutensberg from St. Gallen in Switzerland which was a real novel treat in the USA
and Picon Bejes from Treviso, Cantabria in Spain where blue rules.
I do have to warn that the cheeses are $8 each and I begged to get a $4 portion of each sharing all three which took some arm-twisting as they don't usually do a 3-cheese plate unless u want 3 full $8 portions!
Zwan found the perfect dessert wines: Domaine Marengo No. 655 Muscat from Corsica 2012 and Vollenweider "steffensburg" Riesling Auslese 2010 Gold Kapsel from Mosel, Germany.
We left full and happy and ready to head back to DC the next day after a wonderful weekend of theater and food in NYC.