Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 in New York Eats | 0 comments

 

NYC’s restaurant week ends this Friday, August 15th. With three course prix fixe meals of lunch ($25) and dinner ($38), it’s a great way to dine at expensive restaurants at an affordable price.  Of course, being the family of gluttons that we are, we hopped headfirst onto the bandwagon and made reservations at Tertulia — a Spanish tapas restaurant.

Now, I was personally pretty excited to try this place out. For those of you who love watching food-related shows, such as The Next Iron Chef or Chopped, then you may know that Tertulia’s chef and owner is Seamus Mullen — one of the three finalists of The Next Iron Chef and an occasional judge on Chopped. That means his food’s gotta be pretty amazing, right? Nothing less than spectacular, right? Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to try out his specialty of modern Spanish cuisine. Nothing was going to dampen my spirits. Nothing. Not even the NYC subway system being ridiculously annoying to navigate due to construction and closed lines.

Upon arriving (miraculously only a few minutes late considering how inefficient the subway was that day), the interior was very nicely furnished. Small tables and dim lighting lend to a more intimate atmosphere. Considering how it was still noon, I found that the windowed roof above the kitchen really helped to brighten the place up. I don’t mind close and intimate, but sometimes I just want bright and cheery. The interior design allowed for a little bit of both, which is all I ask for, and an open kitchen is always a plus in my book!

We ordered everything on the prix fixe menu, which worked out perfectly since there were three of us and three selections for each course. Except dessert. That flan had our names all over it.

Of the three appetizer choices, the Pan con Tomate & Jamón Serrano (toasted bread rubbed with tomato and 24-month cured Serrano ham) won our tastebuds over. Although it was a simple dish, basically toasted bread with prosciutto, the prosciutto was not overly salty at all. Our least favorite appetizer? The Tomato Watermelon Gazpacho. To be fair, it wasn’t that we didn’t like it, more that…we thought it was Thousand Island dressing served with the Ensalada del Dia. Served in a glass, we had expected the gazpacho to come in a bowl. It was only when the waitress came to clean up our dishes that I belatedly realized she asked if we were done with the gazpacho. Wait, what? Writing up this post, I’m still a little sad that we missed out. I’m sure it would’ve tasted delicious, but I continue to blame the way it was served. >.>

We also ordered Choclo: crispy hominy with pork belly, lime alioli, and cilantro. This was not a part of the prix fixe menu but it was definitely interesting. The hominy was really quite interesting. It kept us guessing (Is it corn? No, it tastes like maize?) and eating more to try and figure out exactly what it was. The pork belly added a nice change in texture and taste; the pieces were just small enough that it didn’t taste fatty at all.

Paella del Dia

Paella del Dia

For the entrees, everything was delicious…except for the paella. This came as a shocker to all of us. Usually, when you think of Spanish cuisine and tapas, you think paella. (Or are we just weird?) Deliciously cooked rice mixed in with various ingredients, generally seafood, and brought forth in a steaming platter of goodness.

Well, this paella — I’m honestly not even sure what kind it was — was dry…like it’d been sitting in the warmer since morning, simply waiting for its turn to be brought out to expectant patrons. There didn’t seem to be any ingredients in the paella itself, but it was topped with fresh greens and…potatoes. Their housemade ‘potato chips’ were certainly delicious, but adding starchy food on top of starchy food makes for a very starchy meal. Just stating the obvious here. Focusing on the paella itself, besides being dry and unappetizing, it was quite salty and dense.

Really, really disappointed with that dish.

Thankfully, the other two entrees made up for it spectacularly. The Lenguado a la Plancha (New York fluke seared on the plancha with saffron sungold tomatoes and salsa verde) was soft and buttery, served up the way fish should be. The Hamburguesa de Tertulia (smoked pat La Freida burger with cheddar and ñora pepper ketchup on an olive oil roll with housemade potato chips and pickled vegetables on the side) was cooked medium rare to perfection; the addition of the pickled vegetables added a refreshing tangy crunch to the hamburger. But what really stole the spotlight for the entire meal? The Pulpo a la Brasa. This also was not listed on the prix fixe menu but I am so glad we ordered it. The octopus was…wow, just, wow. So incredibly soft and tender, a blunt butter knife cut through it without a problem. The black polenta was an interesting addition; cooked up moist, yet not mushy, I wonder if the black color comes from squid ink.

IMAG0919Finally, dessert. For those of you who have stuck around with us, you may know that I think dessert is just as important, if not the most important course of a meal. It’s the last course, it’s the last thing you eat, it’s what you walk away from the meal with the freshest, most lasting impression. And my family? We love flan. Heck, Jas makes some great flan, so when it comes to flan…we’re kind of spoiled. This flan did not pass the Hwang family’s taste test.

The consistency was pretty firm, which I don’t mind, but I personally prefer my custard to well…have a custard-like texture. But what really threw me off was the aftertaste. Something was mixed into that flan, I hope unintentionally, which gave it an unpleasant aftertaste. Almost like the taste of dish soap.

Yea. That’s definitely no bueno.

Overall, Tertulia’s got some good things going for it. If you plan on dining there, definitely get the seafood. I would totally go back, even if it’s just for the Pulpa a la Brasa.

~AJ~
Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie Hwang

Tertulia
359 Sixth Ave. (6 Av/Washington Pl)
Manhattan, NY 10014
phone: 646-559-9909
websitewww.tertulianyc.com

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