Iced Tea Spoon called and wanted an Adventure, who was Fork to turn this request down. The problem usually becomes where to go – but not this time. When Iced Tea Spoon called, Fork had been watching an episode of Chef vs. City, and Centrico became the perfect choice.
Centrico is owned by the Myriad group which also owns Nobu, Corton and the Tribeca Grill. But the best part – Aaron Sanchez is partner and chef at Centrico. Aaron’s cookbook La Comida del Barrio is one of my all time favorite cookbooks.
Now, most of the time when you go to a restaurant with a celebrity chef, you never expect to see them. Isn’t that sad? But as I sat and waited for Iced Tea Spoon there he was – Aaron Sanchez – Fork must admit there has been a little bit of a crush there since the Melting Pot. Hey, some Cutlery like movie or TV stars, or even musicians or authors, Fork likes chefs.
Once Iced Tea Spoon arrived, we were shown to our table. Fork was SO busy oogling Aaron Sanchez that Fork walked right into the back of the host. A little blush, a little admission about having a little crush on his boss, and the next thing we knew there was Aaron Sanchez standing next to our table and talking to US! Very cool. We spoke about his lovely wife and daughter, and trying to fit so much into a busy day and still be attentive to his pregnant wife. Not easy. We were so stunned it never occurred to us to ask if he would take a photo with us. Next time!
Fork ordered a Frozen Strawberry Caipirinha, which is cachaca (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane), strawberry, agave nectar and lime. Fork loves cachaca and caipirinhas – but usually, it’s limes and sugar muddled in a glass, lots of ice and cachaca poured on top. This drink was gross. That being said, it was the ONLY gross thing we tasted.
We ordered a special appetizer sampler which would let us try 5 different appetizers. There were Plantanos Rellenos – platanos, smoky black beans, a tangy crema fresca. Each bite a different flavor combination, but every bite wonderful. There was a Cerviche de Dia – which that day was a scallop cerviche. Wonderfully fresh, slightly spicy, great citrus kick. There were Tostadas de Jaiba – lump crab meat, avocado, chipolte-lime aioli, herbs and thin slices of jalapeno. Fork couldn’t eat these, but they looked delicious and Iced Tea Spoon gobbled them up very quickly! Enchilada de Res – braised short ribs tucked inside this enchilada was an absolute treat. The short ribs were fall apart tender. The fifth one, Fork must embarrassingly admit the notebook has gone missing. All we can remember is it was a Tamale and it was really good!
Iced Tea Spoon ordered the Pollo con Mole. ITS was determined to try something totally new and this was a dish never before tried. A very generous portion of pan roasted chicken smothered in mole sanchez. The mole was thick and smokey. Sweet, smokey, slight kick, all in one bite. Fork loves mole and loves the surprised look everyone gets when they realize there is chocolate in it. Served along with the chicken were wild mushrooms, cooked down and earthy, and sitting on top was a dollop of sweet potato puree. It added a sweetness and lightness to the mushrooms. Again, perfect flavor pairings on a plate.
Fork ordered the Birria al Estilo Jalisco. Short ribs. Fork is a sucker for short ribs. These were fall apart tender. These were braised and served in an ancho chile broth. Between the braising with all the chiles and spices and serving it sitting in the broth, there was so much flavor here it was amazing. Served along with the short ribs were fresh, warm corn tortillas.
Fork absolutely had to try the grilled corn with cotija cheese and lime. One of Fork’s favorite things to order in any Mexican restaurant, but Fork and ITS were hesitant about sitting in this lovely restaurant chomping on ears of corn. We asked our waiter if he would ask the kitchen to cut the corn off the cob for us. They were happy to do it and we were happy to eat it! Crisp, tender and with that slight smokiness things get coming off the grill. Sprinkled with cotijo cheese and plenty of fresh lime, this was a total hit.
For dessert, Fork ordered the Pastel de Chocolate Mexicana. Fork’s magic word – chocolate. ITS actually does not like chocolate – and yet we are still friends – so this meant more dessert for Fork. Molten chocolate cake made from mexican chocolate. Mexican chocolate is wonderful and dark and hints of spices like cinnamon throughout. Cut into this little cake and it oozed an immense flavor and scent that could make one’s tines swoon. THe cake is served with corn ice cream – sigh, again with corn ice cream. Corn – ice cream – I don’t think so. But this time the sweetness of the corn really played well with the dark richness of the cake. Drizzled on the plate was a chocolate chile sauce. Totally yum.
Iced Tea Spoon ordered a dessert special for the evening – a Key Lime Tart. Fork is fond of a family recipe for key lime pie and usually no other, but this was very good. tart, sweet, not cloying. The crust was rich and buttery and the perfect thickness for the key lime filling. Fork and ITS were grateful this wasn’t a key lime pie that was lathered in whipped cream – neither of us are big whipped cream fans. Needless to say, there were no desserts left when dinner was done.
This is a really good Mexican restaurant. Yes, it is a little out of the way as far as location goes, but it is so worth having an Adventure here. All in all this was a great dinner. The food is wonderful, the service very attentive, and speaking to Aaron Sanchez was just the mint in our mojito!