Time Out says
It’s not sexy, not in the sultry-lit, wine-roused way tapas bars often are. That could be because this tapas bar—the first New York and second U.S. location of megachef Jose Garces’s 11-year-old Philadelphia flagship, Amada—is wedged inside the Financial District’s sterile, decidedly not sultry mall, Brookfield Place, a tie clip’s throw from such aphrodisiacs as Goldman Sachs and American Express.
It’s a corporate, client-dinner air that Amada never quite shakes, no matter how many rolled-up twine rugs it rustically piles against the walls, how many fish-bowl–sized gin and tonics it issues out from the bar or how many twinkling lights it romantically strings along its spacious outdoor veranda. The space is simply too big (nearly 250 seats spread across seven “environments,” including an adjoining café that serves coffee in the a.m. and Spanish wines at night) and too loud (deafening even before music is taken into account) to truly seduce.
Thankfully, much of the food does enough wooing on its own. The James Beard Award–winning Garces, working with chef de cuisine Justin Bogle (Avance in Philly), imports Amada classics like a terra-cotta crock of small but tender shrimp in a sauce that’s part butter, part garlic and part nectar of the gods ($12); patatas bravas that are like Basque Country’s answer to tater tots ($9), short and stout cylinders with smooth, mashed potato centers encased in a crispy hull with a dollop of aioli on top; and a sensual lamb tartare ($13), the soft, supple meat paired with a vibrant romesco verde and a crunchy chip made of Idiazabal cheese.
Save for a tripe stew ($11) and chanquetes (a web of deep-fried fish served with bacalao, caviar and a runny egg, $15), the small-plates portion of the New York menu stays true to the Philadelphia original. So does much of the rest of the menu, from plump little coins of plancha-fired chorizo ($10) to the head-turning spectacle that is the shareable lobster paella ($78), which makes up for its lack of a crusty socarrat base (the drawback of staining those grains with squid ink) with an exuberant amount of seafood. Lamb frites ($28) is a welcome new addition, less a tapa than a traditional entrée, with prodigiously juicy Colorado chops dabbed with rosemary pesto over a Spanish poutine of gravy-licked fries and cubes of fresh feta. It’s a dish to lust over—even if the dining room isn’t.
Brookfield Place, 250 Vesey St
|Cross street:||at West St|
|Price:||Average main course: $20|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu, Sun 11am–3pm, 5–11pm; Fri, Sat 11am–3pm, 5–11:30pm|
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