NYC Alta

Pdho and I had dinner with CK, his sister MK, and Pdho’s cousin TB at Alta which is a tapas place in West Village. As you’re walking down 10th St, there is a good chance you would miss it considering the front of the restaurant is so small , and the entrance is below street level. The surprising part is that once you walk in, it’s quite spacious. It actually has two levels and seems to stretch endlessly toward the back.

After taking a sip of MK’s martini, I decided to order my own as well. I can’t exactly remember if this was a watermelon one or not. I don’t know it was, but I remember the sprig of lavender. It was definitely fruity but not too sweet which is always good by me.

I remember a time when I ignorantly thought bacon-wrapped nuts were not appetizing. What a dark world I was living in back then, because I’ve been loving them ever since I popped my first one. 😉 The bacon wrapped dates & olives stuffed with almonds was absolutely amazing. I really liked them. The crunchy bacon on the outside with the soft cheese oozing from the inside of the dates when you bite in make for such a nice balance. I didn’t get to try the olives, but I think it was so dark, I couldn’t tell what I was picking up to eat. Hehe!
The foie gras terrine was made with truffled nectarine compote, Greek basil, apricot and a lemon thyme veil. It was equally tasty as the stuffed dates. The foie gras was good, but the gelatin-like layer encompassing it really gave it a different kind of texture and taste.
The fritto misto de mare included a sampling of shrimp, calamari, whiting, sepia and sardine which were all slightly salted and crisply fried. I appreciated it more, because the seafood wasn’t covered in batter but it was an average dish. I really think deep-fried dishes have it easy. As Pdho likes to say, you can’t go wrong with deep-fried anything. They are good or really good. Hehe!
Although you can’t tell from the picture, this is the squid ink paella which was prepared with mixed seafood, preserved lemon, guindillas peppers and scallions. I’m always a little bit turned off by the sight of squid ink anything, because it’s so darn black! It looks like… well… black ink, but I’m always pleasantly surprised by the flavor. Unfortunately, you can’t see the black paella in the picture, but it tasted pretty good and the seafood just completed the dish.
The beet salad was made with Tunisian spiced roast beets with afuego l’pitu cheese, toasted hazelnuts and field mache. It was a decent dish.
Although Brussels sprouts are not my favorite vegetable, a lot of people like them so I’ve been introduced to them more often these days. This preparation was with fuji apples, crème fraiche and pistachio nuts. It wasn’t too bad. I think there is always this aftertaste with brussels sprouts that is a little bit off, but the crème fraiche and fuji apples seemed to mask that taste a bit and made this dish pretty good.
The blue crab risotto was actually one of my picks, but it didn’t turn out to be as good as I was hoping. It was made with a combination of idiazabal and parmesan cheese, lemon basil and preserved lemon. I think the consistency was kind of grainy and the risotto itself was a little too hard. It wasn’t a bad dish, but it was not my favorite.

This is the braised beef short rib with a barbaresco taglierini pasta and fresh grated horseradish on top. The meat was so tender and fatty. It was very good, and the taglierini pasta was very good and helped absorb the fattiness from the short rib.

I can’t help my love for calamari, and this particular twist where they sliced the calamari rings so thin that it looked like taglierini pasta was interesting. I’m starting to see that they use similar ingredients in many multiple dishes. It was wok-seared with haricot verts, garlic chips and jalapeno. I always like calamari, so this was a good dish.
The lamb meatballs had a spiced butternut squash foam which helped to mask the gamey taste a little bit, so it made the dish a little bit more edible.
The sauteed broccoli was absolutely delicious. It was prepared with mahon cheese, piquillo pepper relish and rustic croutons. It was nice to get some more greens in our tummies.
The striped bass was crispy fried and served with a black olive puree, pickled fennel, and a foam of pumpkin seed oil and anise air. It was pretty well-seasoned and interestingly flavored.

The baby octopus was wok-charred and plated with potato mille-feuilles, kimchi balls, and a garlic aioli. The potato mille-feuilles was interesting. It was layers of potatoes on top of each other and made into a cake. I actually preferred the calamari over the octopus.

The skirt steak with chimichurri was very well seasoned. An haricot vert and tomato salad was served on top and parmesan potato puree on the side. I definitely liked the skirt steak, but I was starting to get really full by this point.
By this point, I was pretty full, but we had to have dessert. The ricotta churros came with two dipping sauces, a spiced dark chocolate and an apricot lemon thyme sauce. The churros were warm and fresh, and the sauces went really well with the churros. I think I preferred the chocolate over the apricot one though.
I took a teeny tiny bite of the chocoloate souffle cake but just so I could try it. It was warm, moist and the dulce de leche and peanut butter filling was sinful. I really liked the expresso ice cream as well. I think I preferred this dessert over the churros.
I didn’t even try the cheeses, but everyone else was raving over the sampling.
We had a ton of food. Having now shared a few meals with the K siblings, I’m starting to think it’s a pretty dangerous dining party combination when you put them with Pdho and myself. Haha! Pdho’s cousin just added to the feeding frenzy of Foodies, but it was great. So much food, but so much fun! Alta is a great dining destination but particularly for larger groups. Not only does it have the space (which is very much unlike many restaurants in NYC, typically known for cramped squishy spaces), but a bigger group allows you to sample a good portion of the extensive menu.

PAFO Ratings for Alta:
Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 ½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars

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