Cosme

One of my New Year projects is to learn Spanish. I am not planning any trips to a Spanish-speaking country, I do not have a Spanish-speaking boyfriend (always-already single and looking), and I am not interested in exploring the telenovela section of my Hulu account. I am just getting old and feeling dumber with every year that passes. Time and time again I read articles about how knowing multiple languages is good for your brain, especially the learning process, so I thought that a language class might make me feel a little more competent and be something to make the winter go by with a little bit more enjoyment. At the very least, it would “get me out there.” I didn’t want to return to the French or Italian I had learned in school and university, respectively, so I went with Spanish. I already know the basic construction of Latin-based languages, and it’s a language I could theoretically practice in New York. Bueno!

I sweetened the deal by telling myself that I would go out for dinner after class to explore some of the restaurants in and around the area (Flatiron) so that I wouldn’t have to rush home at a later hour to make assemble myself something. Because it’s hibernation season, staying in on the weekend for balance would not be a problem.

Cosme is a Mexican restaurant with a pedigreed chef that has recently opened with a lot of to-do. I don’t think I’ve read anything that is less than glowing with regards to the food and the space. Knowing that the full menu was also available in the bar, I definitely had Cosme as a bookmark for a Spanish lesson Tuesday dinner. When some plans fell through last week, I scooted over after class to see if I could find a seat in the bar.

Now, I definitely have some feelings about eating at/in the bar as a solo diner, or even when not alone. I plan on writing about it eventually, so I won’t get too much into it, but needless to say, where I sat at Cosme affected my overall enjoyment of my visit. With all seats around the bar and at the communal high-top bar tables taken, all that was left was a “table” in what felt more like a lounging section. There was a banquette along a small section of wall with three tables, and on the other side of the tables were low chairs, like you might find in a mod living room. If you’re at the banquette, the table is below your knees. If you’re on the chair, the table is slightly more appropriate to serve as a table, but you have to lean forward because the chair’s natural incline wants you to lean back. I didn’t take the table immediately because it looked like an awful place to eat. It’s where you sit with a drink and look pretty while you wait for a table. But after a few minutes of hoping that I might find another spot and didn’t, I took it. I was there, I was hungry, there was an open spot. FOMO took hold. And the table was as awkward and uncomfortable as I suspected. I ordered sitting at the banquette, facing out to the rest of the bar and people, then switched to the chair, to face the wall, while eating because it was near impossible to eat from the banquette. Thankfully, the food came quickly.

Too quickly? I was actually quite surprised at the speed at which my uni tostada and eggplant tamal came out. I realize that there is not much required for either of them to be prepared, but it felt a little bit jarring to barely have a sip of wine before the food came. The server had recommended a minimum of three savoury courses, and with the prices high, I hedged my bets on the minimum as I knew I would be having dessert.

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Uni tostada with avocado and bone marrow salsa

Oh, that uni tostada. The grumpies I had from my seat and disjointed initial service (I was asked both by a hostess and a harried server what I wanted to eat and drink), started to recede with each crispy bite from that blue corn tortilla. This tostada came highly recommended, but crispy is one of my least favourite textures and tostadas one of my least favourite Mexican snacks. Too often I find that the first bite results in the whole disc crackling apart with topping falling all down my front and/or onto the plate. What’s this? A first bite that stays as a bite with a circle of treasures still intact in my hands? Hooray! I can only guess this means that the tortilla was freshly fried. So yes, this was just awesome. The salsa had some nice heat to it, which played so well against the brininess of the uni and creaminess of the avocado. I didn’t want it to end.

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Eggplant tamal with fresh ricotta

I was fine with this tamal ending. It was very average. It seemed like there was eggplant pureed in with the masa. I couldn’t really taste it. Perhaps because the entirety didn’t taste like much. Even the ricotta was quite flat. Sorry vegetarians. As something to fill me up, it essentially served as very pricey bread service. Oh, and speaking of, I did not receive the gratis chips and dip I saw others receive.

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Half lobster pibil with chorizo, black bean purée, and mâche

This lobster was very good, but not transcendent. I found it to be a bit tough and not as sweet as I was hoping for. I ate the entirety as (all the) tacos. On its own, I think the earthiness of the black bean puree would have been a bit overpowering, but with the very fresh tortilla, it mellowed, with the sweetness of the corn enhancing the lobster. I found the chorizo got lost. The salsa was very bright.

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Husk meringue with corn mousse

And to the swoon. I think this is the most photographed dish coming out of Cosme right now. As much as I wanted to be contrary and order one of the other desserts, I couldn’t not try the corn mousse. Praise Jeebus that I did because it is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. I’m usually not a fan of meringues, but this one came in on the side I like: chewy and not dusty/crispy. The *corn* mousse was the right amount of sweet and vegetal, and it sat in a cloud of freshly whipped cream. Both on the cooler side so as not to turn into a weeping mess on the plate. So much cream. So made for me. I will return to Cosme 100 times even if it is only to have this dessert. It made my back pain from the lounge chair disappear and my self-consciousness about awkwardly facing the wall seem like a trifle.

If my Spanish was workable at this point, I would have loved to have conversed with the gentlemen who ran the food out from the kitchen. They were warm and friendly and did excellent jobs of describing what was on the plates. They were also ever-present, which was the opposite position of what seemed like the sole, run-off-her-feet server who manned the front of the bar. The hostesses were not as snobby as I was expecting for a place that definitely has an air of For Beautiful People Only, but the top end of service could use some schooling from the bottom.

Perhaps I will make my return after my final lesson of this set so that I can properly thank those staff with my newfound skills. I at least have to learn how to say “Husk meringue forever.”

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