Dined at Casa B last evening. It's located in the formerly deadbeat plaza that houses Taqueria La Mexicana in Union Square. Thanks to Casa B and Journeyman, parking in the tiny, one-way lot is now at a premium -- I would recommend on-street parking if at all possible.
My party (we'll call them the Swankettes) were seated in the sultrier, verdant downstairs section, which is walled with fresh herbs. Note: If possible, request to sit downstairs! The mood is much sexier. Upstairs feels a bit cramped, with unflattering lightening. Downstairs, there's a cute little bar complete with kitchen views and an adorable Mad Men-style two-seat plush barstool, perfect for cozyin' up on a date. While I dined, I noticed two chaps on a date, perusing their iPads (maybe the date wasn't going well?), and a few other couples seated at small nearby tables. The dining room, though bustling, certainly wasn't packed.
Our server was jolly and knowledgeable, though there was a (small) language barrier. He recommended any of the cocktails, though he urged us to steer clear of the Cola-Red Wine combo, saying it was preferred for "parties." Anyway, the Swankettes ordered a Sangria spiked with ginger ale, a bird of paradise, and a Malbec served in a small juice glass, like they do in Spain.
One Swankette asked for guacamole, which the server said they offered. NOTE: The "guacamole" is actually pureed asparagus dip! It is very good, but it is certainly *not* guacamole. It was served with talon-like root veggie crisps, which were crisp, warm, and delicious.
Now, as for the food. We couldn't decide what to order, so we opted to make hogs of ourselves and consume as much as possible. Portions are medium-sized and apportioned to share. First up: Albondigas, Spanish meatballs served in gelatinous guava sauce. A knockout dish, stunning in every way. We ordered another pan of meatballs just so we could sop up this sweet, tangy, rich sauce.
Next up: Sesame seared tuna atop sweet plantains. Four discs, perfectly seared, with a generous schmear of wasabi. Excellent, if not especially memorable -- reminded the Swankettes of something one might nosh at Masa.
And then: Cheese puffs with aioli sauce. This was the only loser dish. The puffs, which resemble falafel balls, were dry and tasteless -- not unlike eating mothballs. Fiery aioli sauce was good, but the damage had been done.
Followed by: Papas fritas, or "french fries with grandma’s ketchup," served vertically in a little sack. Smelled delicious, and Grandma knows her ketchup -- smoky and supple, it was. Fries were a bit turgid, as if they needed to be loved by heat just a nano-second longer.
Brief pause for contemplation, and then crispy avocado rolls, prune and cilantro sauce. The "crisp" here outweighed the avocado, and in lesser hands, this could've been a Kowloon special. Luckily, the prune and cilantro sauce was outstanding -- a bit kicky, a bit tart -- and really made the dish.
Finally, we rounded out our feast with sweet plantain omelettes, four husky squares that resemble French toast, syruped with the pink sauce that appears on many plates at Casa B. Very good, plenty eggy, and very filling.
The three Swankettes ended up paying about $30 apiece for a large feast, and we came away satisfied. I'd like to return to explore more of the menu, particularly the meat and seafood dishes.
The vibe is Manhattan chill and unpretentious -- think tea lights and hardwood. Most of all, I was pleased by the sense that they truly seem to enjoy what they're doing. There are no gimmicks here, no silly martinis or meatheads at the bar. It gets the Swank Seal of Approval, and I shall return.