In a word, the food at Amada was a bit salty. Then again, New Year’s Eve is always kind of lame – lots of pressure to have a GREAT time, overcrowded restaurants and bars and harried staff. So I’m definitely willing to give Philadelphia’s Iron Chef Jose Garces another try.
The restaurant is cute and the bar certainly reminded me of Spain. We had a short wait for our table and sat down at the bar. I guess this wasn’t the greatest start to the evening, because apparently the restaurant had called G no less than three times to confirm that we were coming, that we wouldn’t be late, that we would be charged X if we didn’t show. All of which seemed to imply overbooking – or just a typical New Year’s Eve.
My drink, cleverly named Tie Me Up Tie Me Down was delicious. It tasted of freshly squeezed lemon juice with rosemary. I couldn’t taste the vodka no matter how hard I tried. Not even in the after, after taste. In other words, definitely get a cocktail. That was probably the highlight of the dinner … until the very end.
We picked the larger of the tasting menus. In retrospect, we would have been more than fine with the slightly smaller tasting, but who knew?
The first small plate they brought out was a spinach salad with cabrales blue cheese, barely candied almonds, just enough thin slices of red pepper and a smattering of figs, wrapped tightly in paper-thin serrano ham. Yum. The other standout was the cauliflower soup, which was thick and creamy, a great complement to the sliver of toast with seafood on top.
Sad to say, the other dishes were good, but the flavors were overpowered by the salt, at least for me. Even the seared scallop, which I would normally love. The other mains, the roasted pig was good, and the poussin on top of the paella was well-made, even though we had let the rice underneath congeal as we digested. Unfortunately, at this point in the meal, my taste buds had been overwhelmed, and I had started to fall into a food coma.
But dessert provided a nice reprieve. Bursts of tangy citrus juxtaposed against the creamy meringue. A positive bookend to the opening plate, even if what was in between was not as memorable. Still, G and I agreed, there was enough to like – and enough to overlook given that it was likely the busiest night of the year – that we would try Amada again.