239 East 5th Street, New York
Degustation is a unique blend of different styles that well represents the multicultural nature of the East Village. The menu consists of tapas with addition of non-traditional ingredients, mostly from other cuisines. The layout of the restaurant reminds of a sushi bar: the open kitchen surrounded by the bar offers the opportunity to enjoy the preparation of your meal. The exterior design is extremely low-key and it recalls the entrance of a prohibition-era speakeasy.
The tapas are attractive and characterized by a variety of ingredients and preparations that could satisfy different tastes and preferences.
Among the six tapas ordered for the dinner, the perfectly cooked octopus was the star. The charred flavor of its tender meat was counterbalanced by the freshness of zucchini and mint leaves, while the spicy sauce gave a pleasant kick to the tastebuds.
The hawaiian blue prawns on top of the paella could have been a separate dish on their own. Their flavor was enriched by a mild spice rub and similarly to the octopus they were masterfully cooked. The paella was well balanced, not overloaded with ingredients, and it provided a good textural and flavor contrast with the prawns.
Finally, the Brussel sprouts confirmed the great versatility of this underappreciated vegetable. The deep-fried sprouts were covered by a mix of breadcrumbs and cheddar, with cashews at the bottom. Each bite was a surprising explosion of flavor and textures.
A few other tapas – croquetas, scallops and cracked potatoes – were less successful. In the next tasting they will be probably replaced by other interesting tapas such as the roasted cauliflower, the wild board bbq and the foie gras.
Hasta luego, Degustation!