You can absolutely do New York on a shoestring. But a girl’s gotta eat, and I will always give in to a hungry curiosity for something a bit special. So I set aside a budget for one fine meal in the Big Apple. Just one – now that’s a decision I didn’t want to mess up. As it turns out, the choice was easy, because when I asked fellow foodies for New York’s must-go restaurant, I kept hearing the same name: Estela.
Ah what splendid people I know. Estela turned out to be a gem of a place, with an approachable, seasonal menu of American-slash-European dishes, where genius and fun have formed their own umami alliance. No surprise, considering it’s owned by acclaimed ‘tastemaker’ Ignacios Mattos and plonk expert Thomas Carter. Wonderfully warm service brought wave after wave of inventive – yet simple – small plates and sharing dishes. There were taste sensations flying EVERYWHERE. Endives were clearly made for spooning up a crumble of walnuts and salty anchovies. Succulent lamb ribs were soaked in honey and spices and made me wish I could eat bones. Oozy burrata sailed on a ship of satisfyingly charred toast. There was nothing on the menu that didn’t pique my curiosity, nothing ordered that didn’t elicit the feeling that frankly, someone’s really thought this through.
Of course, Estela’s wine list is also very, very good and by the end of the evening I stumbled out into the New York night full of belly and fuzzy of head thinking three things:
1) How had I never considered that parsnip would make a good ice cream?
2) Would it be wrong to go all Tennessee Williams and scream about this place right there in the middle of NoHo?
Pictured: Fluke with green beans and avocado. Burrata with salsa verde and charred bread. Endives with walnuts, anchovy, and ubriaco rosso. Scallops with peas, lardo, and greens. Razorclams with horseradish. Ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo. Beef with chutney, potatoes and taleggio. Lamb ribs with charmoula and honey. Two desserts: Panna cotta with vinegar and honey; Parsnip ice cream with chocolate caramel.
47 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10012