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I'd been wanting to try Meigas for while, and a birthday seemed like the
perfect occasion (I'd sort of hinted at it as a Valentine's Dinner option,
but I wasn't terribly forceful and consequently ended up at Churascarria Plataforma, which was perfectly fine, but
definitely in a different vein). I tend to eat out a lot, but it's not that
often that I go to places with entrees over $25. It's not the price so much
(well, sort of, I am a pretty big penny pincher), but my big phobia
is the wine list. I'm no oeniphile and I'm afraid it shows. But sometimes
you've got to throw caution to the wind. I'mpressions, who cares?

I'd seen a prix fix tasting menu on their website and got all excited
about crazy things like broccoli rabe gelato and veal flavored with charcoal
oil. I mean, what exactly is charcoal oil, and should it be on your food? I
had to find out. I'd also heard about a garish mural, so that was the first
thing I looked for when I stepped inside. It was hard to miss. The entire
back wall was painted in this out of perspective, naive style, complete with
a table of food coming out of the ocean as the main focus. The best part was
the nebulous witch flying down out of the clouds from the upper right. I
only regret being seated with the monstrosity to my back.

We happened to get the intimidating half-man/half-beast waiter that's
always in the photo accompanying Meigas
. He hands-down wins the award for freak-out factor. I'm not
referring to his massive facial hair, which is neither here nor there, he's
simply intense and scary as all get out. You find yourself painfully
straining as he quietly mutters under his breath without making eye contact.
He bosses and yells at the other waiters in gruff Spanish, and he lopes
around in this beastly manner, hunching and swinging his left arm vigorously
with some unknown purpose. I cracked myself up trying to imagine if the guy
ever loosens up. Would he ever do something mundane like ordering out
Chinese and watching "The Sopranos" with friends?

I was scared to ask about the tasting menu since it wasn't on the menu I
was handed, and got nervous when he explained that the chef can specially
make things and rattled some dishes off, which I could barely catch. I went
in knowing I wanted the suckling pig and the baby squid served in its own
ink, and I'm pretty sure those words crossed his lips, but I couldn't say
for certain. I wasn't 100% sure what I was getting myself into, but I agreed
to this arrangement. I was eager to see what delicacies would make their way
to the table, and I love surprises. But at the same time, I was kind of on
guard because I had no idea what the price was (though I was guessing
somewhere near $60 since $59 was listed on the site. It ended up being
slightly more, but not by much). My biggest fear was spending over $200 on a
meal that I would barely be able to chew or taste due to my wisdom tooth
pain and stuffed up nose (ultimately, I managed alright. Only the coconut
truffle gave me some trouble at the end).

Unfortunately, I can only piece together the courses, since I didn't
have a menu to go by and it wasn't always clear what what was being served.
Sometimes it was announced as it was brought, and other times I figured it
out when the plate was cleared and the words, "How was your such and such?"
were uttered. First tapas were brought out. Fussy and small, but good. My
favorite was a tiny, balled croquette of some sort. Then came a pequillo
pepper stuffed with what I thought he said was cod, but it didn't taste like
fish. This was my least favorite of the night, simply because I'm not a big
fan of peppers. I did like the micro-mini croutons scattered throughout.
Next came the white beans with mussels (just one mussel really), which was a
big hit. I never thought something so simple could taste so amazing. This
was James's favorite, and it was his birthday so that deserves a mention.
Then came the squid in its ink, intimidating in a bowl of opaque black
liquid. I wasn't sure if you were supposed to pick the squid out of it, or
enjoy the broth in a soup-like manner. When it came down to it, the flavor
was almost like clam chowder, though nothing of the Campbell's variety. I
ended up sopping the thick juices up with some of the bread (which was very
good–especially the sweet, nutty one), which was nice, but looked crazy
with the light/dark contrast. (Beware, any places your lips may be chapped
will become stained for the night.) After that came the pompano (a
, as the waiter emphatically told us) with saffron rice and little
paprika infused olive oil swooshes. The crowning glory was the suckling pig
with a honey and sherry vinegar glaze served on top of potato slices with a
sprig of rosemary on top. Perfectly crisp skin, succulent meat, though I had
a hard time discerning flavors among the orange, green and white dabs of
accompanying sauces.

I was excited by the desserts, but then I always get a little crazy
where sweets are concerned. A chocolate mousse with chocolate pieces was
fine, but I'm not a huge mousse lover. There was a spoon containing white
fluff, a coconut truffle and a glob of gelatin that I think was supposed to
be eaten in one bite (though I picked it apart) to meld the flavors. My
favorite was the most confusing. I originally thought there were four
desserts and that the mound of sour, freaky tasting walnuts were meant to
stand alone. It wasn't until I meshed them with the mini cheesecake covered
in red glaze (not sure of the flavor) and dipped it into the neon green pool
next to it that I realized its true beauty. When the chef, Luis Bollo, came
out to see how we enjoyed our meal (always a nice touch, and I noticed he
only did this with people ordering the tasting menu. There was a group of
men at the table next to us who were always one course behind us), I had to
ask about the dessert. It turns out the walnuts were mixed with apples,
gorgonzola and vinegar (I didn't catch what the fruit was in the
green sauce). What a combination, I was very impressed.

After dinner, we were treated to a sweet glass of Valencian muscatel
which I didn't realize was part of the meal. Oh, for the wine–I chose a
moderately priced Galician white. It was a worthwhile excursion for sure.
And since I noticed a sign in the window for a $20 lunch, it's pretty
certain I'll be back. (3/24/01)

Out of business, and have been for quite some time. but recently I've
been re-reminded of Meigas because Luis Bollo is now executive chef or
somethin Suba, a place I've never had any desire to visit. (10/2/02)

Hmm…I think Meigas has reopened in some form in Norwalk, CT. Odd.

Meigas* 350 Hudson
St., New York, NY

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