I love the classics. Penguin has published several hardcover classics, with custom pattern stamped-linen covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Each book has colored endpapers and a ribbon marker. They make for a great gift or an addition to your classics collection. Titles include: Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Little Women, Oliver Twist and many more. Available on the Penguin or an Amazon. So cute!
- On Saturday night, six of us went to Alta to celebrate my friend, Kenzie’s 25th birthday! We initially missed the unlabeled, below ground level entrance to this rustic, romantic tapas bar, reminiscent of spot in the Mediterranean or South America. The unassuming entrance leads you into a long, stylish bar area with a coat check and restaurant host at the end of the rectangular space. The restaurant is much larger than one would presume with an alcove through the kitchen on the second floor and a double height main dining room; intimate tables for two, overlooking the main candlelit chandelier, line the balcony area.
After being seated at our very spacious yet cozy table, we each ordered a glass of the Non-Classic Sangria (two orders of white and four of the red, $11 each). After one sip, it is no surprise that the potent, remarkably flavorful sangrias at Alta are fan-favorites. The lengthy menu, composed solely of small plates, is intriguing and almost foolproof, making the selection process and sharing that much more fun. Our host was very understanding of us taking our time with the menu. The service was swift and all of the dishes came to the table as soon as they were prepared. We ordered several dishes over the course of the meal, many of them being vegetarian friendly. We got seconds and even thirds (Crispy Brussels Sprouts) of the dishes we really enjoyed because at times, the small portions merely teased our palettes. The creative plates by chef Harrison Mosher and his team, given the portion size, are on the pricey side and the tab adds up because you find yourself wanting to try it all. Here is a run-down of our menu:
- Warm Crushed Beets, creamed goat cheese & feta, roasted poblano relish, pistachios: the first of the dishes to arrive; juicy beets with creamy but light cheeses, and a slight crunch and kick from the pistachios and poblano peppers=a fantastic combination. $8.50
- Bacon Wrapped Dates & Olives, stuffed with almonds: everyone at the table enjoyed them, even those who were not fans of dates or olives; the girls loved the contrast of the sweet and salty flavors; the dates were more popular than the olives. $5.50
- Fried Goat Cheese with lavender infused honey: flaky and crunchy on the outside, warm and smooth on the inside; heavenly combination with the lavender honey; we could have had several of these each. $7.50
- Grilled Stuffed Grape Leaves with Chicken Confit & Jasmine Rice, lebne & grape molasses sauce: the girls enjoyed the dish itself but complained that the portion was far too small. $7
- Crispy Brussels Sprouts, fuji apples, crème fraiche, pistachio nuts: amazing, amazing, amazing! This takes traditionally disliked Brussels sprouts and reinvents them to a whole new level; an Alta specialty and a must order! $9.50
- Coca (Catalonian Flatbread) oven roasted mushrooms, fresh ricotta, truffled boschetto, herbs: one of our favorite items; it was like a mini pizza; uncomplicated yet interesting and yummy. $10.50
- Potato Gnocchi, black truffle fonduta, crispy potato, baby arugula: another hit; the flavors were precise; the gnocchi was light and airy, but filling and melt-in-your-mouth delicious to the last bite. $12
- Seared Sea Scallops, celeriac puree, apple cider “caviar”, chorizo oil, black olives: must have been tasty because even my friend who does not like scallops appreciated this dish! $13
- Braised Short Rib of Beef, Beet-Barbaresco taglierini, fresh grated horseradish: precisely cooked and seasoned, fell off the bone; the beet spaghetti added texture, color and flavor; the best meat plate. $16
- Skirt Steak with Chimichurri, parmesan potato puree, haricot vert & tomato salad: appetizing but fell slightly short in comparison to the short rib; bit too rare, needed to be prepared with as much attention as the rest of the dishes. $14.5
- Sweet Potato Ravioli, brown butter, hazelnuts, aleppo pepper, sage emulsion: I wish the portion was larger (even after we ordered 2 plates) because we could not get enough; it was the ideal, comforting, Fall dish with a blend of sweet, nutty, and slightly spicy flavors. $9
- Wok Seared “Taglierini” of Calamari with haricot verts, garlic chips & jalapeno: my friends asked about possibly having a fried calamari dish and the host suggested this. Although it was not at all like fried calamari (no breaded coating), it was inventive, delectable, and a great new play on an old classic. $9.50
Post dinner, we surprised Kenzie with a celebratory cake. To further satisfy our sweet tooth’s, we ordered two more desserts, both of which were not as delicious as our main course. Our complete dessert selection:
- Chocolate Molten Cake, chocolate rum sauce, rum raisin gelato, cocoa nib tuile: loved by everyone; not too sweet, warm, and the gelato, with hints of chocolate and rum, made the dessert. $10
- Petite Crème Brûlées, Turkish apricot purée, cocoa butter: beautifully presented and creamy and smooth; the petite serving was only enough for three tastings. $7
- Beignets with a Trio of Sauces, maple syrup, roasted apple and date compote, hazelnut cream: this was the least interesting of the three; the beignets were good but not great; the hazelnut sauce was creative and the complemented the beignets the best. $8
Alta was the perfect place for a birthday dinner. It became increasingly crowded after we got there at 7pm. Although it grew louder, we were never yelling to each other and it never felt overly rushed. We laughed, we drank, we ate and we enjoyed every minute of sharing and discussing our plates!
Note: Alta only accepts American Express and/or cash.
Recap: hip yet warm and inviting, candlelit atmosphere; inspired, fun, small plates, great for sharing and trying more than one thing on the menu; strong, tasty cocktails + a notable wine list; many vegetarian options; excellent spot for a date or dinner with friends.
Food Tally: See above. Total=$375 (with tax and tip for 6 people)
Address: 64 West 10th Street, between 5th and 6th Ave., NYC; www.altarestaurant.com