Battery Park City is one of the buzziest neighborhoods in Manhattan these days. Despite the distance from everywhere else, it has started to undergo a sort of new era where Manhattanites, especially those with family, who are tired of the craziness in Midtown Manhattan can feel a little bit more relaxed on the riverside. It also helps that a lot of residential and commercial real estate developments have sprung up in recent years (no wonder NY Times took notice when it listed Downtown Manhattan as one of the places to go in 2015 in its travel section); chief among those developments is the Brookfield Place, a sprawling complex of expensive shops and restaurants, cafes and bars that offer a true one-stop shop experience. Lately, a big-time chef from Philadelphia decided to make a move to the Big Apple at Brookfield Place. I’ve heard of chef Jose Garces as an acclaimed chef for Spanish food, and was very intrigued when I heard an outpost of his Philly hit Amada was opening in Battery Park City. On a leisurely Sunday evening, I decided to pay a visit and had a lot to like about the food coming from the kitchen.
The menu at Amada is be particularly inventive; what you see in the menu is probably what you have already seen in countless other Spanish places elsewhere. The virtue of Spanish cuisine, however, lies not necessarily in what fancy ingredients or techniques you use (although there are a ton of haute cuisine restaurants in Spain), but in how simple looking ingredients come together for well-executed dishes. And Amada’s level of execution has been very consistent throughout my meal. I’ve probably eaten octopus at 100 different places in the city by now, but the texture of Spanish octopus at Amada was quite nice, and the flavor wasn’t too salty while displaying spicy kick that I immensely enjoyed. Crab-stuffed peppers with toasted almonds were just as memorable, with a very nice balance of flavor.
The empanada with spinach, Manchego cheese and artichoke escabeche, one of the dishes that the original location in Philly was apparently known for, also had very nice touch with a blend of ingredients working harmoniously for another satisfying bite. My dining companion and I decided to forgo paella options and instead went for the flatbread with beef short ribs, horseradish, parmesan and bacon that had the hearty feel to it. Not all dishes worked quite the way I had hoped. I had no compliant on the absolutely juicy and tender meat of the lamb chops, but had to wonder why the seasoning had to be so aggressive as to kill the texture. Despite my anticipation, roasted cauliflower with pickled mustard seeds also didn’t come together quite the way I had imagined; the flavor turned out a little funky and not necessarily in a good way. On the other hand, churros with spiced sugar was a delightful dessert, although my dining companion complained that the Spanish hot chocolate on the side wasn’t sticky enough.
Perhaps because of its location (despite all the buzz in the neighborhood, Battery Park City is still not the most popular choice for anyone for serious dining experience) and the spacious dining space, getting a reservation wasn’t too difficult although it was by no means empty. There is full bar with a lot of Spanish-centric wine options that you can choose from. Amada has a weird vibe where it’s not really catered to family friendly atmosphere but wasn’t quite sexy enough to be considered a romantic dating spot. Perhaps that’s where Battery Park City is heading in terms of its identity? Anyways, for a satisfying meal of Spanish classics, Amada has done very well and I hope to come back soon to try other dishes that the kitchen puts together.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 250 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10281
Telephone: (212) 542-8947