Wednesday, January 4, 2012

...NYC, Day 2, Part 3: Rayuela

For Day 1 of my New York City trip, click here.
For Day 2, Part 1, click here.
For Day 2, Part 2, click here.

I needed to find some Latino food in New York City.

If I had left New York City and NOT had any Latino food, I would have regretted it.  I mean, the Spanish language is EVERYWHERE - on storefronts, billboards, directional signs...EVERYWHERE.  In fact, look at this Pepsi ad near Times Square:

The Spanish version is bigger than the English one!  Whoa!

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, James and I just happened to stumble upon Rayuela while seeking out Russ & Daughters, and it was probably the best coincidence that could have occurred - I needed to find a Latino restaurant, and James had this obsession with finding razor clams somewhere (they didn't have them at Eataly).  One of the paella dishes listed on the menu that was posted outside had razor clams in it, so he was immediately sold.

It was destiny.

After all of that walking during the day, and given the fact that we didn't have a reservation at Rayuela until 9:30, we took a cab from Russ & Daughters back to the hotel...and napped.  We were exhausted, but we wanted to enjoy our meal without yawning extensively.

Sign outside Rayuela
 There was no way that we were walking back to the Lower East Side, so we took a cab to Rayuela and arrived close to our reservation time.  We were immediately seated at a table at the end of a long corner cushion.  The restaurant was not crowded, and the people closest to us were about 3 tables down, at the other end of the cushion.

I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant - they played great music, mostly instrumental versions of popular music, mixed with some salsa-type rhythms.  Candlelight was the main lighting source, some real, some battery-operated.  There were even candles within the entrance door.

Rayuela is mostly lit with candles (and the Christmas tree)
 We were served a small dinner roll before our order was taken called "pandebono", a Colombian bread made without yeast - yucca flour, masarepa, queso blanco, eggs, and sugar.  It was heavy and dense, but soft, warm, and especially tasty with the garlic and olive butter with which it was served.


Garlic and olive butter
To start, we ordered two different kinds of ceviche: James's choice was Hamachi: a Japanese yellowtail with grapefruit, avocado, citrus sauce, and wasabi-lemongrass foam; I chose Langosta: lobster, shrimp, avocado, cucumber, queso fresco, onions, and rocotto pepper leche de tigre.

Hamachi Ceviche
Langosta Ceviche
 I was much more satisfied with my choice, mostly because I am not a fan of the taste of grapefruit, but the yellowtail itself was pretty tasty on its own.  The langosta combined some of my favorite Latino flavors (seafood, onions, avocado), so I made the right choice.

James had to have those razor clams, so for his entree he ordered the paella that contained them - Paella de Concha, or "shellfish paella", which also included saffron rice, conch, mussels, and sepia in a lemon aiolli.  As a fan of shellfish myself, I found this paella to be an excellent choice.
Paella de Concha
I chose a different paella - Paella Verde, or "green paella".  The rice is infused with cilantro and parsley, giving it its green color, and mixed with shrimp, clams, rabbit, chicken, and finished with a tomatillo poblano chili, adding more green coloring to the dish.

Paella Verde
I chose well, as I found my paella to be just slightly tastier than James's, although his was fantastic as well. 

We asked to see the dessert menu, and it was obvious that we had to try something.  To go along with my fondness for avocados and guac, I chose the Crema de Aguacate: avocado cream with poached plum de arbol, Pedro Ximenez Sherry reduction and a chocolate tuille.

Crema de Aguacate
James chose the unusual-sounding Chocolate-Jalapeno Ice Cream.  Yeah, really.

Chocolate-Jalapeno Ice Cream
If you can believe it, the ice cream was fabulous - chocolatey, with a hint of jalapeno flavor (no heat - I think the ice cream would have melted...).  My dessert was creamy and tasty, and James especially liked the flavor of the plums in their sauce.

Overall, we both made great choices for our meals, but even more importantly, finding Rayuela by chance was a strange (yet heavenly!) coincidence.  The restaurant is exactly what we wanted - Latino with a funky twist.  In Pittsburgh, the only place that compares to this type of restaurant is Tamari, and even it is not quite to the level of Rayuela.

Tired and full, we returned to the hotel.  We had our Russ & Daughters bagel breakfast planned for the next morning, followed by adventures in Brooklyn and our culminating experience: Babbo.

165 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you had a good experience!! Please let us know the next time you are in town! And do not forget that we are also open for brunch on the weekends!