About three weeks ago, Rachel Hall and I had the pleasure of attending a menu tasting at China Grill Management’s brand new Bar Basque at the Eventi Hotel in Chelsea. The restaurant features wine and inspired cuisine from the Basque region of Spain in an ultra hip setting.
The environment actually reminded me of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video, but what Bar Basque has that Lady Gaga doesn’t, is a splendid view of one of the world’s largest LD screens on the facade of The Eventi Hotel. When we arrived, Patrick, one of Bar Basque’s managers gave us a grand tour of what seemed like the ultra cool younger cousin of the Star Ship Enterprise. No surprise here though, because the restaurant was actually designed by none other than Syd Mead. Maybe you recognize his work? Syd is best known for his work on the movies Blade Runner, Aliens and the upcoming sci-fi action film, Tron. The small corridor that separates the mens and ladies washrooms makes you believe Captain Kirk might actually beam in at any moment. Once seated, Rachel and I respectively chose our fruit martinis; she had plum while I enjoyed the watermelon.
After deciding that we would share every plate, we were given the Fermin plate which included three different types of dry cured ham. While the Iberian and Serrano hams were both exquisite, I favored the acorn-fed Iberian ham the most.
Next, we tried the Calamares fritos y a la plancha, con ajo blanco y tinta de calamar…. fried calamari with garlic aioli and squid ink. The sauces were surprisingly delicious, and though I had never tasted squid ink, I am definitely now a fan.
Our other appetizer was a plate of roasted red beets, greens, herb pesto, caramelized goat cheese and Marcona almonds. Whoever thought of sprinkling brown sugar on goat cheese and taking a torch to it like creme brulee was a genius. Not only was the appetizer absolutely delicious, but the bold, new flavor erupted in my sinuses with all the excitement of wasabi, but without the tears.
For our entrees, I ordered the seafood paella which included a fantastic assortment of sweet prawns, calamari, mussels, tomato-garlic sofritos, aioli. The dish interestingly enough tasted a lot like home, that is, in it’s familiarity and its sheer satisfaction. Rachel’s grilled swordfish on the other hand was cooked to perfection sweet Bilbaina style.
For dessert, we shared pine nut ice cream and a decadent dark chocolate truffle enveloped in a smooth ganache over a delicious crust.
After a few more minutes of perusing the amazingly futuristic premises and mingling with several other guests, Rachel and I said goodbye to our friend Patrick, and headed back uptown with full, happy bellies.