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The Early Word on Long-Awaited Latin Fusion Joint Nuela

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Big Box Nuevo Latino restaurant Nuela opened one week ago today and already, the public is a-squawkin'. A restaurant two years in the making, it was originally intended as Douglas Rodriguez's comeback to New York, but his protege Adam Schop is at the stoves instead. Even without Rodriguez, it was bound to face a certain amount of scrutiny. Friends and Family seems to have gone well enough, and most people are calling out the intense decor and shareable entrees, a current lack of alcohol, and the hefty price tag even with the temporary 20 percent discount. One woman even wrote Rodriguez a love letter. To the early word:

The Okay News: Eater commenter Momobaby reports: "Went to Nuela last night for dinner. Liquor license won't be on hand until next week; had a batida instead. Restaurant decor a bit cliche for a Latino restaurant (dramatic colors! cacti as table centerpieces!). Food is okay: hamachi ceviche served with sour orange, which overwhelmed the whole dish. Octopus and pork skewers were good; beef heart skewers were tender but needed salt. Goat served three ways interesting: terrine of saddle meat was not as moist as I wanted it to be but seasoned well, and the croquettes made with leg meat needed a touch more seasoning." [Eater Comments]

The Good News: In the comments, user Sambolef was so jealous of all those Friends and Family people, he just had to get in on the fun: "after walking by all week, this evening i managed to finagle my way into nuela's friends & family dinner. there were three of us & they were really nice about it. all i can say is that it brought back memories of patria & chicama.it was by far the best nuevo latino food experience i've had in years. great vibe & beautiful people too." [ENY]

The Shilltastic News: Is it a shill? Couldn't say, but Zagat user Nuevo Nuela Fan is all about the "experiance" of dining there: "What a pleasent suprise. The experiance was differnt and refreshing. The staff could not have doen more for us. The took their time to explain the theme behind the design of the establishment as well as walked us through the menu with attention to detail in every dish we asked about. Managment came by to visit severl times and dropped off unexpected samples for us to experiance. The food was excellent and the prcie was fair. I am looking forward to going back there and bring some friends to share in the experiance. They really had their act together for being open such a short time." [ZagatBuzz]

The Way Over the Top News: After attending a "soft opening" early in the month, The Atlantic writes Nuela quite the love letter, calling it "a statement of South American unity and fashion," noting that "New York has not had such an elegant offering since Fonda da Sol closed its doors on the ground floor of the Time Life building in the early 70s." All of the ceviches are "delicious," the fois gras croquettes are "a revelation," and mains are "as delightful to see as to taste." [The Atlantic]

The Good Though Pricey News: MadParkNews blog has a review of opening night and had a fine time, but wonders if it's priced low enough to snag weekday diners: "Pricing of the ceviches and bocadillos seems within reason but some of the platos seemed pricey (crab at $32) if the goal is to keep the place full every night. It’s just slightly out of reach to get the locals in on say, a Tuesday. It’s not that the food doesn’t deserve the prices, but there is a lot of competition in the area and I think pricing influences whether it’s a weekend and special occasions kind of place or one that locals will go to weekly. That being said, a non-traditional meal made of ceviches, empanadas and bocadillos and maybe a drink would more than please busy New Yorkers for a mid-week dinner." [MadParkNews]

The Great News: The sole reviewer on OpenTable has this to say: "Ceviche and arepas were great! Atmosphere is vibrant and exotic. A good time!" [OpenTable]

The Mostly Good News: Yelper Courtney P.'s ode to D-Rod, in its entirety: "I have a chef crush on Douglas Rodriguez. And when he packed up and left NYC a small part of my stomach died. So when I heard 2 years ago that he would be making a return in the old Sapa space, my stomach jumped for joy. But alas no restaurant and no Rodriguez, and this week it re-opened as Neula with Adam Schop at the helm...There is no liquor license (yet... but rumor has it that tomorrow this will change?) so this is not the place to go to get your drink on quite yet...A lot of thought clearly went into the menu. The chicharron with chili lime salt were light and had none of that nasty taste that pork rinds can have. The hearts of palm are apparently sourced directly from Hawaii (as opposed to being sourced directly from a can) and were delicious surrounded by a frisee salad and dates. The salad was pretty acidic, but the dates added the perfect chewy sweet counterpoint when they were mixed in. Empanadas are not typically my favorite: lots of dough and very little love. But the oxtail marinated in red wine with bone marrow was not overly doughy and the meat was downright perfect...They are 20% off right now and without alcohol this meal was still relatively pricey. This place will likely not to be an everyday haunt." [Yelp]

—Zachary Feldman

Nuela

43 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10010 Visit Website

Nuela

43 West 24th St., New York, NY

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