Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Travel Dish: Boqueria Soho

If you’ve been following my tweets, you probably already know that I’m vacationing in New York this week. That’s right, it’s “Single Guy and The City.” So for the next couple of weeks or so, I’ll be posting from my vacation here in Manhattan (and later on in Washington, D.C.). I start off with my very first meal in the Big Apple.

Did I Land in Barcelona?
171 Spring St., New York
PH: 212.343.4255
Open daily, noon to midnight
Major credit cards accepted, reservations only for parties of 8 or more

When I arrive in New York, especially when I’m flying into JFK, I feel like it’s such a journey just to get to Manhattan. So when I finally check into my hotel, I need a lot to replenish myself from my long journey.

Luckily for me, my hotel in Soho is within walking distance to some fancy restaurants. I ended up at this small tapas restaurant that almost looked like it was closed when I approached. But Boqueria Soho is open every day until midnight, so arriving late was no problem.

Boqueria is the second location for the restaurant created by owner Yann de Rochefort and Chef Seamus Mullen. The first location is in the Flatiron district in Manhattan. This tapas restaurant is inspired by La Boqueria, the popular market for tourists and locals in the heart of Barcelona. When traveling in Barcelona, I loved going to the little tapas bars, almost like carts, in the back of the market where they served fresh seafood that were amazingly good.

When I walked into Boqueria Soho, I got a seat at the marble-top bar. The bartender, I have to say, was really friendly and helpful with suggesting wine and food. The dining area was bustling with a lot of diners and I really liked the décor, looking stylish but also approachable and not too formal. It was definitely a casual but fun vibe.

I got a glass of Poema Brut cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and ordered up some tapas from both the regular menu and the daily specials.

First up was Pintxo de Pulpo ($8), or grilled octopus on skewers. Along with the octopus chunks were tomatoes, sugar snap peas and artichoke all topped with a green olive vinaigrette. The size was definitely tapas, which is small bar snacks in Spain. There was a lot of contrasting flavors and textures in this starter, from the crunch of the snap peas to the pickling flavor of the vinaigrette.

Next up was Tomates y Sandia ($12), a seasonal salad of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, basil, goat cheese and radish. The plate looked beautiful when it arrived, and it had the typical summer flavors of tomatoes and basil, even though the basil was so minimally presented as very thinly sliced chiffonades. But you definitely tasted it and the goat cheese was so creamy. Again, nice contrast in textures with the crunchy radishes added in, which I’ve never had in a typical summer tomato salad. But it was a genius addition.

I got a glass of red wine of Mencia grapes and went on to my last dish, which was also the special of the night – suckling pig. Cochinillo Lechal ($15) came with pieces of the suckling pig mixed with purple potatoes, sweet corn, romano beans and a dollop of almond romesco. (I remember eating romesco for the first time at Nopa in San Francisco, so at least this time I recognized that it was the sauce.)

The pig meat seemed dry, but when I bit into it, it was so tender. I enjoyed it, although the skin could have been more crispy. Still, I loved all the combination with the beans and potatoes. The romesco sauce didn’t pack a lot of flavor, though, but I didn’t mind. It was just another play in texture on the plate that definitely is a signature of the chef.

At the end of my first meal in Manhattan, I was satisfied and felt rejuvenated. I was ready for my week of dining in Manhattan, and with a start like the meal I had at Boqueria Soho, I knew I was in store for some amazing food.

Single guy rating: 3.75 stars (contrasting textures that please)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Boqueria Soho on Urbanspoon

Travel here too:
Travel Market: Barcelona


julie k said...

was it worth it? The suckling pig sounds expensive for 5 (?) bits of pig?

Mark Scarbrough said...

Shoot, I LOVE this place. And am going to be there next week again. Love it. No holds barred.

Single Guy Ben said...

Julie, you know I can sometimes be value-conscious and can sometimes feel like I'm being gouged if something is too pricey for what you get. But I have to say I didn't think about the price as I was eating the pig. I think $15 doesn't sound like a lot when some entrees go for $20-24, so to me it seemed right on the mark. Oh, and Mark S. seconds that right?! ;-)

Single Guy Ben said...

Oh, forgot to mention I was having dinner with a friend tonight and was raving about Boqueria, and she looked at my review on my Blackberry and she says I forgot to talk about the watermelon in the tomato salad, and that was a big oversight because having watermelon was different and a nice texture against the tomatoes. I guess I've had watermelon in salad before and love it, so took it for granted. Again, just an indication how things blended in harmony that I didn't even second guess the dish. Watermelon and heirloom tomatoes were a refreshing combo here.

Cookie said...

Wow, all the way on the east coast these days huh? I love grilled octopus but have never had them on a stick before! Goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes are such a great classic combo too. Great meal!

Mrs. L said...

Did I mention how jealous I am of your trip back east? Yes, I'm making lists of places to try from your adventures should I ever get there. Looking forward to some more reviews!

agent713 said...


I'm going to New York in December and staying in SOHO (on Watt St) I'm stoked that you're there. I'll be taking lots of notes on these entries!!!

PS Because of you I've signed up for Twitter LOL

Single Guy Ben said...

Oh, Agent713, are you staying at the Hampton Inn Soho? If you are, send me an email and I can give you the low down.

foodhoe said...

That tomato salad really sounds interesting. Did you like the watermelon? Both are so good right now... that octopus looked delicious too. yummayumma!

Single Guy Ben said...

Yes, I like watermelon in anything, and the freshness of the tomato was so meaty that it imitated the meatiness of the watermelon, so they were both good and refreshing. And yes, the octopus was great. I wished it was more than just those two skewers, but then it wouldn't have been tapas.