The New Summer Menu at Bar Basque

I was invited by Bar Basque to come try out their new summer menu about a week ago and I have to say I was thrilled. I had really enjoyed the space at the Rachel Ray EHOW event. The whole place was designed by Syd Mead of TRON and a NYC architect Philip Koether (you can read all about the project here ) It’s a combination of sleek futuristic bar interior and open air terrace dining. It’s really quite a great spot. I was planning to get some good shots of the inside but there was a snafu with our reservation which was a little frustrating. Apparently they had down the wrong name but everything was worked out in the end and we were given a lovely spot on the back terrace.

They had a tasting menu planned for our evening and encouraged us to order anything else we would like from the main menu as well as wine and cocktails from the bar. The tasting menu looked like a lot of food so we decided just to order some drinks.

I started out with a Hampton’s Mojito while Mr. T went for an Old Tom Fizz Ransom. My long cool drink was perfect for the insanely hot weather we were going through. The mint left me feeling refreshed and revived while the effervescence of Mr. T’s drink left him feeling the same way.

After some delicious warm bread and olive oil they brought out our first round of food.

Idiazabal Cheese Croquettes and Yellowfin Tuna Tartare “Push Pops”.

The Croquettes were everything you would want them to be. Salty, hot cheese just oozed out of the crispy shell and four of these little orbs suddenly didn’t seem like enough.

The Tuna Tartare “Push Pop” was also a delight. I loved the playfulness of the appetizer and the red wine caviar balls and velvety tuna were a perfect match. Both of these are great dishes to start with if you came with a group for drinks and snacks. Round one was a solid success. Round Two was the seafood course with a Yellowfin Tuna Crudo, Sea Scallop Crudo, Octopus and Spanish Mackerel.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was this Yellowfin Tuna with Chimichurri and Ajo Blanco. The Tuna was so perfect it simply melted in my mouth and the chimichurri gave it a nice salty kick.

Another big highlight of the night was the Spanish Mackerel, Escabeche- Style with Shallots, Chilies and Coriander Seeds. I loved the how the chilis and shallots really spiced up the oily fish and the sardine can presentation was the icing on the cake.

The Octopus with Black Olives, Tomato Confit and Extra Virgin Olive Oil was served this way as well and I think Mr. T may have licked the can clean on this one.

The Sea Scallop Crudo was the least successful of the bunch. It just did not work for Mr. T or I. The texture of the scallop was somewhere between soggy and rubbery and the Black Olive Puree completely overwhelmed the dish.

Before we get to Round Three of food it was time for Round Two of Cocktails. I really enjoyed my Watermelon and Raspberry Martini. First of all it’s pink and fruity- what the hell I love pink fruity drinks. However it wasn’t overly sweet. The watermelon juice kept it light and refreshing while still masking the vodka quite well. Mr. T’s Kiwi and Elderflower Martini was absolutely amazing. I shied away from it at first since the main ingredient was tequila but the sweet kiwi juice cut through that tequila perfectly and I have to say this was one of the most balanced drinks I’ve enjoyed in quite some time.

Onto Round Three with our Main Courses of the night we started off with an Heirloom Tomato Salad with Dandelion, Pedro Jimenez Sherry Vinegar and Mediterranean Sea Salt. Mr. T loved this dish but I thought they were a little heavy handed with the Sherry and the natural sweetness of the Tomatoes was lost. A little drizzle of Olive Oil along with the awesome Sea Salt they had on top would have lightened this up a bit.

The Smoked Trout A La Plancha with Jamon Butter was wonderful. The top was slightly breaded so it had a nice crunch and the buttery sauce below was so delicious I ended up using a piece of bread to get very last bite of sauce after the fish was finished.

The Slow Braised Pork Belly with Baby Clams and Albarino Wine Sauce was our last savory dish of the night. I enjoyed the combination of zesty wine sauce with the Baby Clams but I missed the usual crispy top and could have had the meat a tad more moist.

Before our desserts came out we did one last round of drinks. Mr. T stuck with his Kiwi Martini and I tried out their Pimm’s Royale. Pimm’s No. 1, lemon, peel, cucumber and Cava made up this drink and while it was delicious it was probably my least favorite of the night. I was expecting something slightly sweeter- more like a Pimm’s Cup. But I still managed to drink the entire thing and enjoyed every last second.

To end our meal we were given two desserts- first of which the Pina Colada, Coconut Flan with Pineapple Salad and Rum Caramel. The flan was delicious. It reminded me of being on vacation with the strong beachy flavors of coconut and a sticky sweet caramel sauce.

But the real winner of the evening was the Fried Milk with Passion Fruit Reduction and Chocolate Ganche. Oh my goodness this was like churro but better! I loved how the milk just oozed out of the sweet cinnamon sugar crust and the Passion Fruit Reduction gave it such a nice sweet twist. I had a brief moment where I contemplated smacking Mr. T’s hand away so I could enjoy it all myself but then I reminded myself that I was a lady and restrained myself. However I may be coming back just so I can completely house this dish myself.

So overall we both enjoyed really enjoyed our meal. I see myself returning for the delicious cocktails and then staying around for the inventive and fun seafood dishes that Chef Yuhi Fujinaga has created.

Bar Basque