Monday, March 26, 2007
Nestled in the West Village, Agave is a harmonious melange of distinctly southwestern flavor and uniquely New York modernity.
I heard of it from Rachael Ray's newest show "Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels". The show is similar to "$40 a Day", where she travels to a new city every episode, but in this show she does not consider money as a factor and simply recommends her favorite restaurants. She mentioned their lunches being particularly affordable so it was at the top on my list of things to try during this last trip to New York.
Not knowing what to expect, I had made reservations on OpenTable, but upon arriving with Melissa, I was surprised to see it was sparsely populated. We chose to sit in the front of the restaurant, with a nice view of both passerbyers on the street and the bar with the delicious-looking bartender.
I had already looked at the menu online, but I still thought it over. Melissa and I both ordered our own grilled corn on the cob. I think they were boiled before grilled because their texture was softer than other grilled corn I had tried. Also, there was a hint of spiciness in the corn and a pink tint to the cob, making me think it was probably boiled in water spiced with a red pepper, like cayenne. The corn was lightly buttered with a cilantro-lime butter when it arrived, which, coupled with the spiciness, brought the southwestern feel back to the corn. As a grand finale, the corn was sprinkled with a Spanish cheese, Cojita, which was salty and firm, very similar to Parmesan. I can safely say no corn I had ever had included such an interesting and successful blend of favors.
Also as an appetizer, we shared the corn-crusted calamari. I was imaging that the corn crust would bring a new element to the typical fried calamari, but was disappointed to find it was just your typical calamari, the crust was not breaded, but more like panko, the Japanese batter used to make tempura. I didn't mind too much because I love calamari anyway, but also because of the sauces provided. With the calamari came two sauces: a "chipotle crema" and an "avocado crema". These cremas had a thick, weighty consistency, so I would assume their base is a mayonaise. As heavy as it sounds, both sauces were strong enough in favor that too much was not necessary to dress up the already-delicious calamari.
For my main dish, I had grilled Mahi-Mahi tacos. The plate came to me with warm tortillas which already had strips of fish in them. On top of the fish was a salsa which was made up of grilled pinapple, mango, cilantro, and lime juice. The fish was cooked well-done but was incredibly juicy and tender, despite it's blackened look. On the sides of the plate were other extras, including a really delicious guacamole, sour cream, fresh tomatoes, and crunchy lettuce. I appreciated that these extras were on the side so that I could control exactly how heavy or filling I wanted my tacos to be. All in all, the tacos were really fresh and light, yet richly flavorful and filling.
I skipped dessert, but plenty of their options sounded interesting.
I thoroughly enjoyed Agave. The decor was a really fantastic blend of southwestern feel, with grainy brown paper over all the tables and an adobe staircase leading down to the bathroom and also a very classy modernity, with very simply chic plates and tables. The food was just a reminder of how much southwestern cuisine has to offer.