Disappointing Dining at La Mar in NYC

Usually, dining is a highlight of our jaunts up to New York City, but this time, not so much. If we had stopped at drinks and cebiche at La Mar, we would have had a terrific time. Alas, we did not.

The restaurant is next to 11 Madison Park, off Madison Square Park, with an elegant exterior that reminds me of Embassy Row in Washington, DC. Inside, the space was bright, with accents of turquoise and an amazing installation of Peruvian corn kernels mounted on the long wall of the staircase up to the second floor. Very cool.

My drink was excellent. The Devil’s Punch #3 tasted like a fortified sangria, but without the fruit pieces and with a good, strong, fruity red wine. (I need to get that recipe!) The cebiche we picked with delicious, pungent, citrusy, packing heat, with chunks of octopus and fluke.

Our next appetizer, the Jalea, looked great, but it was just okay. I would describe it as Peruvian inflected tempura. Our very nice and friendly server explained that the food wasn’t traditional Peruvian, more Peruvian-inspired or made with traditional Peruvian ingredients. Fair enough.

Cebiche limena

Jalea, fried seafood appetizer

My main course could have used more salt or flavor, but the duck was well cooked and it was bountiful. Of course, at this point, I wasn’t focused on my meal, the couple sitting next to us had my full attention.

They were having a huge fight, and they were straight out of central casting. First, she wants to know when he last saw one of his friends, of whom I take it she disapproves … this quickly devolved to him telling her not to “break his balls” and complaining they had only been engaged, “what, 6 weeks, and already” she was telling him who he could and couldn’t see. (He saw his friend in Albany, that den of iniquity)

Somehow this segued to her recent 40th birthday. He berated her for oohing and aahing over the gift her father bought her. How come she never reacts like that when he gets her a gift? Here, he started to recite a list of recent gift items.

At this point, I looked around to see if there were cameras, I mean, this was like a bad reality show (are there good ones?) or a scene from a mob movie.

No cameras, but now she’s sobbing quietly, asking him to just try to be nice to her father. “What? I should fake being nice to some guy I don’t even f-ing know?”

It ended with him saying he just wanted to have a “wonderful evening out” and now she had ruined the whole thing. “This was not a wonderful evening out.” Indeed.

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