...We meet to Eat!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A is for Argentinian....

Cuisine Club started off with it's inaugral meet at Estancia 460, in Manhattan's trendy, Tribeca neighbourhood.
If you've seen our first post, you probably already know how Cuisine Club works.
The responses to the idea of the Cuisine Club have been tremendous, so far. If I have to go by the number of people who've claimed interest in attending atleast some of our meets', we are on the right side of 20 already. Although we do thrive on the "bring as many as you please" mantra, we are also relieved by the fact that not all members will make it to all the meets', since we schedule to have them on alternate Saturday nights. And so, after a lot of contemplation and one postponement, it was decided that Cuisine Club would hold their first 'm(eat)ing' (No, I dont mean we are all non-vegetarians. It's just my attempt to amalgamate our club punch-line above) on Saturday, April 12th, 2008.
Shivnarayan Singh was picked 'Organiser A'. As you may have already gathered, his task included making two choices; picking a cuisine from the letter 'A' and then picking a restaurant where we could go try it out. Using his 'Zagat' membership, Mr. Singh figured A is for Argentinian-Italian and thus picked Estancia 460.

(Restaurant trivia: Previously known as Sosa Borella, this place was one of two restaurants run by the Argentinian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Sosa. However, when they split, Mrs. Sosa made a few changes to the decor and the name, but retained the menu more or less and now runs the place single-handedly. She also established a web presence for Estancia, in the form of a an informal blog, probably in-keeping with the similar spirit of the restaurant. Mr. Sosa runs 'Sosa Borella' in Midtown.)
Our unanimous vote goes for the humble yet stylish decor; as though we were dining in an 'Andy Warhol' painting, surrounded by stacks of branded beer/coca cola/ wine bottles around us. Quaint yellow bulbs with shades, suspended from the ceiling, floated over our meals as we were in a space that was part-restaurant and part-bar. People seemed to be at ease, some regulars, some newbies like us, all seemingly comfortable in this rather informal setting. It could have been a house-party at one glance, a trendy Manhattan night-out, at another.
Moving onto the purpose of the evening; a wine was a must. And it obviously had to be an Argentinian one. So we picked a bottle of the 'XUMEK Syrah‘04, Argentina' - a subtle yet unique flavour that went very well with the diverse fare on our table. I lost my heart to the excellent pesto, that must have been made from basil, freshly picked probably from their backyard.
Our Argentinian - Italian meal for the evening, from the well balanced menu, included the following dishes:
- Bruschetta Trio tomato with basil, grilled shrimp & white beans on toasted ciabatta
- Roasted Beets walnut crusted goat cheese, savory lentils and mesclun greens
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken with roasted tomatoes, zucchini & roasted sweet potatoes
- (The 'Special for the day' which we just had to get) Stir-fried Shrimp with zucchini, tomatoes dipped in Hot Salsa sauce.
Every dish re-affirmed our faith in this place. By Dessert time, we were convinced that no one dish can be better than the other, so we eased ourselves into the 'Dessert Platter' which offered an assortment of crepes con dulce de leche, strawberries, chocolate cake, hazelnut ice-cream etc. A perfect end to a perfect evening!
Cuisine Club Meeting 'A' thus, was an absolute success, living upto the basic ideology of the club. Kudos to Shiv, for a job well done on this one! Not only was the place picked with careful consideration and substantial research, keeping in mind aspects such as the budget, ambience and location but also, the cuisine for the evening was one which none of us had tried before. Needless to say, we emerged from Estancia (meaning a 'home' or a 'temporary stay' in Argentinian), as four happy souls, knowing that the bar, for meetings going forward, had been set really high!
Here's to Cuisine Club Meet 'B' on Saturday, April 26th....