Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One step closer to complete summer fun

Last night I checked one more item off my summer wish list. I visited the “secret” rum punch paradise, Cienfuegos. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. It is located on the second floor on 6th Street between Avenue A and First. Don’t look for a sign outside though. You won’t find it. There is no storefront, you enter through a Cuban sandwich shop, which conveniently serves frozen daiquiris if you have to wait to get upstairs, and then walk up a hidden metal staircase in the back. Once you get to the top of the stairs it’s like a green and gold wonderland, to the tune of Cuban music wafting in the background. The décor is slightly over the top, but is part of what makes the atmosphere so fun to be a part of—Cienfuegos transports you from the streets of NYC. All of the chairs are high backed, and there are tall tapered candlesticks on the tables.  You can find a table to suit any party from a conference room style round table for 8-10 to a corner window table for 2.  In the back is a pink room that can fit larger groups. I cannot wait to go back with a whole bunch of people and get a giant bowl of rum punch. All in all, it is a rather small place. It looks almost like a gutted apartment turned into a bar/lounge. Yet, it works. The homey feeling of it contributes to the contrived sense that you are entering a secret speakeasy.

The cocktails were fantastic. They were perfectly blended to challenge your palate, and boasted the bright colors to match the room. I recommend the Viola Royal, a blend of champagne, gin, and violet liqueur that is a pleasing pale purple and complex with flavor. The wait staff was equally fantastic, and extremely chatty and knowledgeable about the drinks. Our waiter helped me pick a drink I would like when I was having trouble making a decision because the selection was so vast. The food, on the other hand, failed to impress. We ordered popovers stuffed with cheese and chorizo, and the came out looking like little turds, not the fluffy muffinish shape you expect from a popover. They were ok, but left much to be desired, and took quite a long time to be served. Needless to say, they did not lead me to try any of their other cuisine, though the more traditional Cuban fare may have been more delicious.

Then we moved down the block to Death and Co, an establishment by the same owner that boasts mixologists not bartenders, and a intimidating binder of drinks to choose from, complete with ice chipped directly from a large old fashioned block. The cocktails were just as delicious. I had the Rita Hayworth, and it was love at first sip. The atmosphere could not be more opposite of the sunny colorful Cienfuegos. Death and Co is completely black, with no windows, on the ground floor, and lit solely by candles.
The menu, however, despite the fact that the two establishments share a head chef was far superior. We tried the pork belly, lobster sliders (I’m not sure if this is exactly what they were called on the menu the online one is not up to date, the cocktails are QUITE strong people!), and the truffle mac and cheese. Everything was delicious. The pork was tart and crispy. The truffle mac and cheese was tasty, though a little heavy on the truffle flavor. I love truffles/truffle oil, but you can't overdo it. It was served in 8 individual spoonfuls, so the cute presentation made up for the over flavoring. The lobster sliders were the star of the meal. They were served on mini buttery brioche buns that were a perfect mix of toasted yet soft, and the lobster was a refreshing mix of lemony and mayonnaise.

Overall I had a lovely evening hopping between these two venues. It is always fun to have someone put so much time and energy into crafting a beverage so delicious with such quality ingredients that will challenge your taste buds with new flavors. You will never be able to look at your standard kettle and soda the same way again. The cocktails are refreshingly frothy, since the block ice allows you to shake it longer without the risk of dissolving too much water into the mixture. The glasses are ornamental. Yet I simply don’t understand why these fancy pants bartenders still insist on putting egg yolk and egg white into so many of their concoctions. Not only does it make me wonder if they are unknowingly infecting the masses with salmonella, but I just find it a little gross. I don’t care how fabulous the stuff is that you are mixing it with, I don’t want to drink raw eggs, and that’s that. Am I right people?

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails