Jose Andres' Mar at Little Spain offers a tasty seafood feast. The centerpiece is the open kitchen where oysters are shucked and the dishes are meticulously prepared. A marble counter surrounds the kitchen where diners can enjoy the show with a glass of wine in hand. Larger groups are seated at nearby tables. Service is excellent.
The absolute best way to enjoy Mar is with one or two tasting menus. I recommend the $60 "Mar Experience." It's a steal compared with ordering a la carte. Our meal began with two shrimp, heads still on, arriving on a sizzling cast iron plate smothered in olive oil, garlic and cracked red chilies. The shrimp go quick, but the oil that remains is perfect for sopping up with some warm bread. Next up were two pristine mussels, a rarity in this neck of the woods, topped with a saffron escabeche sauce. It was followed by a tiny fried fish fillet with three dollops of mojo rojo, a sauce rich with cumin.
The next plate really took our breath away. A single squid cooked a la blancha served over slices of golden roasted potatoes, its tentacles tucked neatly inside. The final bite is filled with sobrassada, a stuffing made with Spanish sausage and olives. Even the tomato salad was exemplary. Chunks of peeled tomato alongside baby endives, seaweed and dusted with sesame seeds.The final course was a fisherman's fish stew filled with potato, shrimp, clams and the fish of the day in yet another decadent sauce.
Dessert brings two scoops of vanilla ice cream with mini crunchy cream puffs that is then drizzled with warm chocolate sauce with hints of cinnamon. I'm not a dessert kind of person, but this one is killer. >>
- Thomas Rafael