Friday, April 9, 2010

A little Mexican, for a change, at Hell's Kitchen

Saturday night, AV and I were both exhausted and looking for something low-key. We were headed out to our local wine bar, but on the way I suggested we pop into Hell's Kitchen to see if they had any tables available (they're usually booked up at prime times). Lo and behold, they had a delightful two-top right by the window. Score!

We settled into the table, perilously close to the diners next to us, and enjoyed the upbeat, wood-clad dining room while we waited for our food. AV sipped a beer. And when a runner came by with a plate of their warm, fresh cornbread, we dove in. This stuff is great-- not sweet, full of nice ground corn texture. With the flavorful spiced bean dip served alongside, it's hard not to fill up on the cornbread alone.

Warm wedges of delight

But there were entrees to come! AV chose the skirt steak enchiladas, with haricots verts, red rice, queso blanco, and salsa rioja. This was a huge amount of food, and after devouring the sides, he only made it through about half the enchiladas before he was too full to go on. He thought the dish was quite good overall, and it was a good value for the $20 price tag.

A whole mess 'o stuff

My choice was the organic mesclun salad, with port-poached beets, goat cheese toasts, and a passionfruit vinaigrette. Rarely do I feel that a salad dressing absolutely makes a salad, but this was one of those admirable cases. The strong taste of fresh passionfruit enlivened all the vegetables and made the salad tangy and delectable. Without it, it would have been a completely ordinary beet-and-goat-cheese salad. With it, it was something else entirely.


We rarely eat Mexican food, so Hell's Kitchen was a nice treat. The food is surprisingly high quality, and while the place isn't cheap, you get what you pay for. I'm glad we went back-- it's a four Offset Spatula neighborhood joint that's off my radar but should be front and center.
679 Ninth Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets

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