The Portuguese-and-beyond cooking at Aldea—sophisticated, seasonal, now and then surprising—is winning near-unanimous cheers from Chowhounds. One sensational hit, says RGR, is arroz de pato, a paellalike dish with perfectly cooked duck confit and cracklings, chorizo, and olive. Others love shrimp Alhinho (with garlic, cilantro, pimenton, and shrimp reduction) and roasted baby goat (with chanterelles, toasted buckwheat, and pickled cherries).
The chef, George Mendes, is well versed in 21st-century technique, which is on full display in the open kitchen. taboo, who caught the dinner show, reports seamless kitchen teamwork and standout starters with up-to-date flourishes: chilled littleneck clams (with natural jus, ginger, bay leaf) and sea urchin on toast (with cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, lime): “Both were so tasty with herbs and splashes of foam and zests.” Flavors range well beyond the Mediterranean, as in an Asian-accented cuttlefish appetizer with coconut curry (since replaced on the menu by a preparation with caramelized lychee and Japanese mentaiko, or pollock roe).
Prices are gentler than one would’ve expected a couple of years ago for food at this level—something hounds are seeing all over town nowadays. Entrées top out in the mid-$20s. “Exceptionally good,” writes Wilfrid, “not least the prices.”
31 W. 17th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan