It's been two years in the making, and now chef-owner George Mendes has finally opened Aldea, a kind of Mediterranean-modern restaurant near Union Square. Specifically, Mendes created Aldea's menu in tribute to his Portuguese heritage, and its menu features presunto, for example, a cured ham akin to Jamón Serrano. Another appetizer is a plate of sardines with raisins macerated in Madeira and served with bitter almond milk. Appetizers (see the full menu after the jump) are all priced at $9 and under, and no entrée costs more than $27, with most in the $19-$22 range.
Aldea has 68-seats on two dining levels and there's a 6-seat Atelier-style chef's counter that offers a full view of the completely open kitchen. Above, four hundred acrylic tubes hang from the ceiling like overturned graduated cylinders from a chemistry class. It is the type of spot where the maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang's Metropolis might spend a quiet Tuesday night with a mystery novel, the charred octopus starter, and a cocktail made from gin and some SAE 10W-30. The food at Aldea promises to be far less greasy.
Mendes is something of a chef's chef, and like his friend Paul Liebrandt, he's clocked some serious time plating food in a molecular way that's showing up in his food these days in a minimal, refined way. Mendes also worked for David Bouley, Alain Passard, and Martin Berasategui. He was the chef de cusine at Tocqueville and the chef at Le Zoo, the restaurant that once inhabited the space that has since become The Spotted Pig. Below, the full opening menu.
Aldea // 31 West 17th Street // (212) 675-7223
Spring Market Menu
PETISCOS (small bites)
KNOLLCREST FARM EGG 7
bacalao, black olive, potato
BEAU SOLEIL OYSTERS 8
three oysters, three preparations
CHICKEN TENDERLOIN SKEWERS 6
smoked sea salt, shitake, perilla glaze
RAZOR CLAMS 9
a la planxa, ginger, bayleaf
RICK’S CATSKILL MT. RAMPS 7
crisped pig ears, apple, cumin yogurt
DUCK HAM 8
dry-cured Portuguese ham
BENTON’S COUNTRY HAM 11
FOIE GRAS TERRINE 15
JAMÓN SERRANO 9
SPRING VEGETABLE CONSOMME 10.
mushroom “ravioli”, morels, peas, favas
Madeira raisins, bitter almond milk, citrus
SHRIMP ALHINHO 15.
garlic, coriander, pimenton, pressed jus
BABY CALAMARI 10.
coconut-curry, squid ink, herb puree
SEA URCHIN TOAST 14.
cauliflower, seaweed, mustard greens
Spring lettuces, baby vegetables, flowers,
aged country cheese, Port vinaigrette
BEV EGGELSTON’S PORK SHOULDER 19
littleneck clams, nugget potatoes, Spring vegetable pickles
ALL-NATURAL CHICKEN 21
foie gras stuffing, braised lettuce, tomato confit
black garlic tuile
WAGYU HANGER STEAK 26
egg sunny side-up, onion-bone marrow marmalade, potato-oxtail terrine
ARROZ DE PATO 20
duck confit, chorizo, olive, duck cracklins’
FISH AND SHELLFISH
HOUSE-CURED SALT-COD 21
ramps, morels, melon-serrano jus
fresh chickpeas, market vegetables, Arbois wine
DIVER SCALLOPS 27
farro risotto, cucumber, orange
WILD STRIPED BASS 26
crab caldeirada, tomato, saffron