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Eater Inside: Aldea

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[Horine, 5/8/09]

Delays are pretty common occurrences in the restaurant industry. Dealing with investors, contractors, and the inexhaustible red tape of the city's various agencies leads to inevitable shifts in opening projections. Welcome to the extreme case: Bouley and Tocqueville alum George Mendes has been working to open his spot Aldea for the better part of two years. After a weekend of friends and family and an industry party tonight, it will open to the public this Wednesday.

Needless to say, he's had a lot of time to work on the menu, much of which is inspired by the dishes of his ancestral Portugal. There's a lot of seafood on the menu, but also note the inclusion of oh-very-now items like Bev Eggleston's pork shoulder, Benton's country ham, crisped pig ears, and duck cracklins. Also oh-so-now: the most expensive menu item is $27.

As far as the space goes, it's a long strip of a room with a thin mezzanine above. Mendes seems to embrace the industrial feel of the space with blue concrete walls, beige and blue flooring, and a chandelier of sorts, made up of 400 hanging acrylic rods. The long lower floor is divided into a bar area, a main dining section, and, as is custom these days, a chefs counter, while additional tables and a private dining room occupy the second floor. The playlist: Interpol, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, the Stroke, etc. Have a look at her menu:

PETISCOS
Knollvrest Farm egg 7
bacalao, black olive, potato
Beau Soleil Oyster 8
three oysters, three preparations
Chicken Tenderloin Skewers 6
smoked sea salt, shitake, perilla glaze
Razor Clams 9
a la planxa, ginger, bayleaf
Rick's Catskill Mt. Ramps 7
crisped pig ears, apple, cumin yogurt

CHARCUTERIE
Duck Ham 8
house-cured, membrillo
Presunto 6
dry-cured Portuguese ham
Benton's country ham 11
hickory-smoked
Foie Gras Terrine 15
fig degustation
Jamon Serrano 9

APPETIZERS
Spring vegetable consomme 10
mushroom “ravioli”, morels, peas, favas
Sardines 11
Madeira raisins, bitter almond milk, citrus
Shrimp alhinho 15.
garlic, coriander, pimenton, pressed jus
Baby calimari 10
coconut-curry, squid ink, herb puree
Sea Urchin toast 14
cauliflower, seaweed, mustard greens
Jardin 11
Spring lettuces, baby vegetables, flowers, aged country cheese, Port vinaigrette

MEAT
Bev Eggelston's Pork Shoulder 19
littleneck clams, nugget potatoes, Spring vegetable pickles
All-Natural chicken 21
foie gras stuffing, braised lettuce, tomato confit, black garlic tuile
Wagyu hanger steak 26
egg sunny side-up, onion-bone marrow marmalade, potato-oxtail terrine
Arroz de pato 20
duck confit, chorizo, olive, duck cracklins’

FISH AND SHELLFISH
House-cured salt-cod 21
ramps, morels, melon-serrano jus
Escolar 22
fresh chickpeas, market vegetables, Arbois wine
Diver Scallops 27
farro risotto, cucumber, orange
Wild striped bass 26
crab caldeirada, tomato, saffron

ALDEA

31 West 17th Street, Manhattan, NY 10011 (212) 675-7223 Visit Website

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