Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tertulia - Tapas & A VERY LONG Wait

I usually don't like to go to tapas restaurants. At the end of the meal, I usually feel as if I haven't eaten much of anything. I don't want to feel like I've gorged on food, but if I'm dropping loot on a meal, I'd like to think I should feel satisfied at the end of it.

Also, if I can try a popular restaurant that doesn't take reservations during an unpopular day of the week or an off time, I will. Many popular places here in New York City DON'T take reservations. When I see that's the case, I usually let out a sigh and hope that the bar area is inviting, or there's at least somewhere to sit when I get there. Then I gird myself for the wait. Sometimes, I just forego the restaurant altogether and wait until the hype dies down and the waits become shorter.

I couldn't do that this time. We went to Tertulia, a well-reviewed and very much hyped tapas place, at the suggestion of new couple friends. When you're married, and you meet new couple friends you like, it's always a good thing (See: Marshall & Lily from "How I Met Your Mother"). I let them pick the place.

This is the bar area at Tertulia. Tiny!

Husband J and I got there first and heard that there was a 1 1/2 hour plus wait. The unfortunate part of this unsurprising discovery was that this place was TINY...I mean really, really small. People were standing near the bar, and there was barely anywhere for us to wait for our friends. We finally scooted in right next to a food station by the door.

Then we waited and waited some more. About an hour and fifteen minutes into the wait, I was starting to lose energy because of low blood sugar. The nice hostess told us that the people sitting at the table intended for us weren't leaving for awhile...a long while. Our group decided to stay and were pretty even-keeled about it.

Next thing you know after our continued wait (I think close to the 2 hour mark?), we got a free pitcher of sangria and one of the smaller dishes. It pays to be patient and NICE. The staff was complimentary to and thanked US for our patience. I think we realized that: 1) It was Saturday night and most good places were going to be packed anyway; and 2) it wasn't necessarily their fault that people were eating slowly that night. Sangria makes everything better. I honestly think we waited well over 2 hours. Thank you to the staff at Tertulia for knowing how to take care of their customers and diffuse a situation.

Eventually, we ate all of this:

Smoked Pig Cheek, Quail Egg with Pepper. Cojonudo actually means "Awesome" in Spanish

It was awesome! The smoked pigcheek was crispy and almost like toast.

Tosta Matrimonio
Black & White Anchovies, Slow Roasted Tomato, Sheep's Milk Cheese, Aged Balsamic

I think if you don't like anchovies, then this flat bread-like will convert you. The smooth cheese spread is what really sets this apart.

Tortilla Espanola
A classic Spanish omelet: egg, potato and onion

Tortilla Espanola is a typical tapa that you'll find in many Spanish restaurants. I will say that this was fine and maybe even a little bland. It wasn't my favorite dish we ate that night.

Ensalada Invierno (Winter Salad)
Squash, kale, mushrooms, Idiazabal cheese, pumpkin seeds, mushroom vinaigrette

This was a great way to fit in some veggies. Kale is in season, and it's a super food. :)

Coles de Bruselas (Brussels Sprouts)
Crispy Brussels sprouts, pork belly and mojo picon

I think every restaurant must have found a way to make Brussels sprouts irresistible, and Tertulia is no exception. It's all about the mojo picon, a sauce made of garlic, paprika and cumin, which gives a lovely kick after crunching through the sprouts.

Chicken "Nuggets"
Boneless chicken, blue cheese sauce, pomegranate seeds

I'm calling these pieces of boneless chicken, chicken "nuggets". I love that they weren't breaded. The tangy blue cheese sauce was set off by tart pomegranate seeds, a nice contrast. The chicken was juicy, which is often hard to achieve with boneless pieces. This was a special that night, but they should add it to the menu full time.


Chuleton de Buey a la Brasa
40 day aged prime rib, grilled on coals, served with romesco sauce and pipperada sauce ( both not shown)

Wow...just wow. Perfectly cooked, supple "melt in your mouth" prime rib. I loved this. I never get prime rib.

Fingerling Potatoes

I usually ignore potatoes. I think I ate so many of these. Never underestimate what salt, pepper, and some garlic can do.

Torta de Manzana
a warm apple cake, rum ice cream and cider caramel

I will always love warm cake, and I loved that this cake just a tad sticky from the caramel. For those of you, who like rum raisin ice cream, you'll like this.

Tarta de Chocolate
Dark chocolate and coffee ganache and almonds topped with sea salt

We were all fighting for this smooth, rich chocolate in pie form.

Tertulia was worth the wait. That being said, I will only go back at this point when I know I can make it an early dinner or a late night snack (knowing me, it's going to be the former). The wait was killer!

Do you like tapas and small plate restaurants? What's the longest you'd wait for a table at a restaurant?


Tanya said...

I've only had one true tapas experience but thankfully it was in Madrid. So good...ham so good that you could write love letters about it. I digress.

First, I don't like waiting for food so huge kudos to you and yours for the wait. Second, it DOES pay to be nice when you need to. I try to channel my positive energy when in trying situations. Generally, I do get what I want. It's still a challenge however.

Last, the food looks good. Pork belly? Girl, nothing says lovin' like some good ol' pork belly. I wish I had been there (or at least showed up at the 1hr 45min mark).

Yardley Messeroux, Olive Oil Aficiondo said...

Just looking at this post made me extra hungry!!! Just in time for lunch.

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@Tanya - LOL! I totally agree. Pork belly = love! I think we waited for so long because we were too lazy and too cold to leave!

@Yardley - I hope you enjoyed your lunch! :)


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