For the last 14+ months I've been living in the city, I have been incessantly reminding myself that I need to go to Boqueria. It's true. Seamus Mullen's tapas restaurant has been at the top of my "To Eat" list for THAT long and just this past Saturday afternoon, I was able to finally check it off.
Strolling down Thompson Street with my sister Hanna and her boyfriend, we tried popping our heads into Snack, a tiny little Greek restaurant, for lunch but were unable to immediately sit. So we decided to walk around the corner and see if anything else sparked our interest. Hanna looked up and innocently said, "What's Boqueria?" My eyes widened. I stopped dead in my tracks.
"Oh my God. Boqueria."
And with that, we were in, being whisked to a table in the back, facing the open kitchen, me ranting all the way about how long I've been waiting to come here, how talented the chef was, blah, blah, blah. My lunch companions most likely rolling their eyes. But, alas. I had arrived. I was to eat at Boqueria. I was to eat at Boqueria today. Finally.
The decor in this restaurant is fantastic. Wood paneling all over the walls make the interior incredibly warm and inviting. The light fixtures were fabulous too. And the open kitchen in the back, sealed the deal. High tables with cream colored leather booth seating made for an intimate environment. A really, really great looking place.
After being walked through the menu by our devastatingly adorable Spanish waiter, we decided to split five or six tapas. And a fruit-laden (read: blood orange) red sangria to sip my way through them.
First came the complimentary grilled bread, Pan con Tomate. A classic Spanish style bruschetta of grilled bread, rubbed with garlic and tomato and finished with some salt. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Simple, rustic, crunchy goodness. Next was fried quail eggs with chorizo on toast (Cojonudo). Two tiny little sunny side up eggs sitting pretty on petite rounds of toast, sneakily hiding the gems of sautéed chorizo. This, is truly the breakfast of champions. A glorious translation of sausage and eggs. Thinly sliced melt-in-your-mouth Serrano ham was served on more pieces of the Pan con Tomate followed by a trio of perfectly fried croquettes: mushroom, salt cod, and suckling pig. The mushroom croquettes were studded with truffles and each bite was explosive with the earthy, concentrated mushroom flavor. The suckling pig was served a top a purée of dried fruit (what tasted like prune perhaps?) and the salt cod was joined by a bright, lemony aioli. Smoky brussels sprouts pan roasted with salty little chorizo lardons were served still sizzling (Hanna's favorite). And the final wooden cutting board that was ushered to our table was grilled lamb marinated in lemon and cumin with a salsa verde generously spooned on top. It was this last little morsel that shot me straight to the moon. The most tender, juicy and slightly smokey piece of meat I think that I have ever had. And the salsa verde of thyme, rosemary, garlic, citrus, and olive oil just put it over the top. Lamb just owns me. And has for quite some time. (My mother loves to tell the story of how I would shake, literally shake, in my high chair when she'd put lamb in front of me. Looks like I still do now.)
All three of us were smiling the entire way through this wonderful little meal; our stomachs perfectly and comfortably full. The food was nothing shy of delicious and absolutely appropriately priced. Lunch for three came out to about $50. And while we could have easily gotten a slice of Ben's Famous Pizza and munched on benches in front of Vesuvio Park, don't you always secretly want to impress your family? Or at least prove to the Bostoners that NYC is, in fact, the superior city.
Love you, Hans.
171 Spring Street