World renowned chef Mario Batali knows a thing or two about having a successful restaurant in Manhattan. On the heels of one of those amazing locations, La Sirena, now comes his latest creation called Tapas Bar. Tapas Bar, which opened last month, expertly takes the idea of what Tapas is, and accelerates it to its maximum potential. I took a friend there this past weekend to his newest location, located inside the gorgeous Maritime Hotel, to experience it all.
“La Sirena is a big beautiful restaurant with several different atmospheres,” says Batali of the space that services two dining rooms, a grand barroom, hotel lobby, and garden terrace overlooking Ninth Avenue. “Spanish food will play perfectly well on all of these fields. It’s at once creative, provocative and comforting. And (Chef Anthony) Sasso’s genius and whimsy is just right.”
Chef Sasso’s roots in Spanish cuisine stem from frequent visits to see family in Catalunya and a lengthy stint at the marisqueria “El Hogar Gallego” on the coast north of Barcelona. For the past 13 years, he’s led the kitchen of Casa Mono, where he has honed his skills and earned the restaurant a Michelin star and three-star review by The New York Times in 2015.
All of what Mario said about Chef Sasso rings incredibly true based on the experience that we had. Tapas Bar has an incredible way of transporting you from the cold streets of Chelsea to a warm and beautiful atmosphere, reminiscent of Madrid & Barcelona. The amazing textures used on the floor, to the dim lighting throughout and so much more really engulf you in the Spanish scene that enhances your time there to the fullest. Not to mention the difference in styling from the Maritime Hotel, which has a clear “blue” presence from its lobby alone.
The extraordinary culinary dishes that Chef Sasso presented us that night were nothing short of incredible. Each Tapas dish is brought to us in a clean and sophisticated matter, that challenge your taste buds in each bite that you take. Although we loved each and everyone of the dishes we were presented with, these are the ones that we highly recommend you try the next time you get off the ACE at 14th Street and head one avenue over to Tapas Bar.
As simple as a bread option can be for a restaurant, their Pan Con Tomate really stood out for a variety of reasons. One being that the tomato rubbed bread had a ton of amazing flavor in it, thanks to the Spanish Sea Salt that was immersed inside. If you are a salt fan, this is a dish for you (amongst many others) that left a great crunch when diving into it.
I’ve always been a huge fan of all types of peppers, so naturally their Shishito Peppers were an easy pick as I have had them before and always enjoyed them thoroughly. These were no exception! The peppers came with huancaína, parmesan, walnuts and toasted garlic al Jerez to give a blend of fantastic flavor profiles that complimented the dish overall.
If you are looking to stay on the lighter side at Tapas Bar, then their Blood Orange Salad will definitely do the trick. This is was one of my favorite meals of the night, as the mixture of the Blood Orange with the marcona almonds, pomegranates and poached figs were really a big treat and didn’t overpower the watercress or orange itself. Simply delicious.
Onto dishes that are a bit heartier. It is crazy to believe this, but Tapas Bar actually has a Hot Dog on the menu! Their Mini Morcilla Hot Dog stood out primarily because of its uniqueness on a menu like this, but it was also incredibly tasty! It came with a Blood Sausage Bolognese, Spicy Mustard and Tumeric Onions. Three flavors, one and a half bites. Great job.
I have always been a big fan of Pork Belly, and their version is stellar. Topped with a couple of Chicharones, this dish is hearty and flavorful from first bite to last.
Overall, this was one of the best meals that I have had in quite some time, and I sincerely look forward to making my next reservation. For more information on Tapas Bar and La Sirena, please check out their official site.