Estela, New York City -2/08/2022

I have heard about Estela for a long time and I told Hoa that the next time we are in New York, we have to make sure to stop by for dinner.  So here we are at Estela tonight with Larry and Nicole.

I also have their cookbook and inisde is a brief description of Estela: One flight up, in a bustling neighborhood bistro overlooking the chaos of one of downtown New York's busiest streets, Ignacio Mattos serves food so uncanny delicious it consistently earns him accolades like "Chef of the Year", a 1 Michelin star, and the restaurant got a spot amongst the World's 50 Best restaurants.

Chef Ignacio Mattos grew up in Uruguay and in his brief introduction, he talked about his culinary travels that have allowed him to explore everything from Italy's cucina povera (Poor cooking) to modernist cooking in Spain; from classical French cuisine to Afro-Brazilian cooking of Bahia, Brazil.  That global perspective is reflected in his current dishes at Estela.

 

Estela is set one floor above Houston street in a low key building that looks like nothing from the outside.

 

Stairs leading to the entrance of Estela

 

Once you get inside there is a small area for you to check in, then the host will open the door (on the left) and will lead you to your table.

The inside is long and narrow, the tables are so close together and the noise level is pretty up there.

 


This is our table.  It is inches away for the next table.

View of the bar from our table.

 

 

 

In 2014 Obama and Michele dine here and they sat at the far end corner (left picture).  The Obama's created a real commotion as the secret service shut down the street, and security was everywhere.

 Click HERE to see the article.

 

Simple table set up.

 

  

All the dishes on the menu are meant to be shared so I am just going down the list and ordered 8 dishes out of the 15 for the four of us.

 

View of tables in front of our table.

a

   

Tonight we met up with Nicole, Kevin and Kristie's friend from High school.

 


We are also meeting up with Larry, also Kevin and Kristie's friend from high school. 
 

 

View of the bar.  I was told that the best seats at Estela is the bar itself, which accommodates 14 people comfortly, and tends to full up for good after seven o'clock.

 

 

Hoa and Larry opted for a cocktail before starting the meal.

 

 

Cheers! 

a

   

Next, with the recommendation with the Sommelier, Hoa selected a bottle of red wine: Clos Fantine Faugeres.  This bottle is actually pretty good - Cheers!

a

 

Jamon Iberico, Spanish best cured ham.

We love Jamon Iberico and if we see it on the menu, we always ordered it.

a

Fluke and Uni

Estela always have a couple of raw fish options but our waitress recommended their signature dish.


This is one Estela signature dish of sushi grade fluke that is cured in sugar and salt, diced and mixed with Arbequina olive oil and mandarin olive oil served with dime-sized coins of uni layered underneath the fish.  The fluke is served with a green yuzu kosho (a Japanese paste combining yuzu zest and the sharp spiciness and umami of chili) which makes the whole taste floral and subtly spicy on the end.

 

 

Beef Tartare with elderberries and sun choke

This dish been on the menu since day one and never leaves the menu.  It is made with Bison (very lean) and each bite is intensely garlicky, with pops of elderberry and crunchy sun choke chips in the mix.

Simply delicious!

 

Endive, walnuts, anchovy, and Ubriaco rosso (cheese)

At first look, it looks like nothing but a pile of endives leaves with a bit of dressing and orange zest.

 

As you dig further, you will uncover sourdough breadcrumbs, cubes of cow milk cheese coated in Barolo, and walnuts.

The way to start is by eating a few of the top leaves, little endives cups holding orange juice and oil, and then beginning filling the rest of them with the incredible delicious sourdough crouton and the cheese mixture hidden below.

It is also fun to scoop all the goodness on an endive leave.

a

 

We are now moving to our second bottle of wine: La petite Baigneuse.  This bottle is good but we all preferred the first bottle better.

 

Lobster with XO and Treviso

a

Xo sauce is the Hong Kong condiment that results from cooking dried seafood with chili, ham, shallot, and garlic.  Estela puts a spin on it and uses guajillo chiles and Iberico ham giving the sauce a unique umami taste. The poached lobster is paired with Braised treviso lettuce has a mild bitter taste and has a wonderful depth of flavor.  The lobster was sweet and has a nice texture.

a

Fried Arroz Negron with Squid & Romesco

This is another dish that is consistently on the menu.  The Spanish-inspired dish used brown short grain rice that gets crisped up so it tasted a little like popcorn.

Estela doesn't blend nuts or bread into their romesco sauce, which makes it a bit different than the classic Romesco sauce.  Instead of hazelnuts and squid hiding throughout, which will surprise you with their crunchy textures since everything covered in ink and it is hard to tell what you are about to eat.

 

   

By far, one of the best arroz negro.

a

Grilled Foie gras with grape leaf.

 

 

This is definitely a new way to cook foie gras, it is wrapped in grape leaves.  Tthe foie gras is grilled instead of traditionally sautéed, served with chicken jus seasoned with white soy sauce (shiro shoyu) with ponzuu.

 

 

This is what you see underneath the grape leaves.  The dish came with a chewy crusted bread to dip into the delicious broth.  Nothing is going to waste!

 

 

Steak with Taleggio & Sea Fennel

a

Who doesn't want a nice piece of steak, right?  Here the steak is served with a creamy and runny Taleggio sauce and sea fennel.  The taleggio sauce sounds like it might be too rich but it is in fact perfect.

The steak was cooked to my liking (medium rare). 

a

Desserts

Estela have 3 desserts on their menu and we ordered all three.

 

 

Panna Cotta, vinegar, and Honey

I love panna cotta and this version does not disappoint and it is perfect with honey and cabernet vinegar to cut through the creaminess, and a sprinkling of bee pollen on top.

 

Parsnip ice cream with black truffles

I know parsnip ice cream sounds weird but it is actually pretty good.

 

Chocolate cake with whipped cream

Before serving this dessert the slice of chocolate cake is broiled to create a crust similar to a crème Brule, adding a wanted burnt flavor note.  The black sesame ganache delivers savory notes and the whipped cream refreshes.

 

 

We shared all the desserts between the 4 of us.

 

 

Coffee for me and Hoa

 

We are now leaving the restaurant.   It is now around 10:30/11:00Pm and the restaurant is still full of people, a stark contrast from California where by 10:00pm, restaurants are usually empty.

 

I am so glad that we had a chance to eat at Estela, the food was fantastic from beginning to end.  We were also so happy to have Nicole and Larry joined us making the dinning experience such a fun and enjoyable evening.

The small plates style allow the four of us to order an eat a of bunch of dishes.  Service was excellent and the sommelier made really good recommendation based on what Hoa told him about the type of wine he likes.

The tables are extremely close that to get in or get out, you have to pull the table out in order to squeeze in.  Good thing we are all vaccinated and boosted so I we all felt pretty safe. 

Extremely live ambiance, very cozy, and above all the food is pretty good.  Will definitely came back next time if we are in New york again.

 

 

 

Filed under: Restaurants

Home

Travel

Our house

Birthdays

Photo Gallery

 Mon  petit coin