I don’t know why it took us so long to try out Café Barcel, at 162 Main Street, because it has been on our Nyack To Do list since we moved here last summer; we have passed by several times and it has certainly beckoned. We finally made a reservation last weekend and took my mother, who was visiting from Delaware.
I knew it was going to be a great night when a silver pail of bread arrived at the table with “Everything Butter” as in, “all the ingredients on an everything bagel.” Pure genius. In fact, I see no reason to ever eat plain butter again.
Scratch that: I knew it was going to be a great night a few minutes before that when we were served some small bites of Orange and Fennel salad on top of Crispy Polenta, compliments of the chef. (Excuse the following photo, which came out blurry due to all the excitement.) (Truthfully, I should probably get a new camera in order to do justice to food this fabulous.)
Okay, I stand corrected on all of the above: I think I really knew it was going to be a great night a few moments before that, when we first stepped inside. The atmosphere here is sleek and contemporary, with a grey, white and black color scheme, accented with red banquettes. The space is modern yet comfortable. Specials are spelled out on both a mirror in the back and a chalkboard off to the side.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter when exactly I knew it was going to be a great night, the point is that it was definitely turning out to be. I liked the menu, which has a Latin flair, and includes lots of organic products and items grown locally here in the Hudson Valley.
To start, my mother enjoyed the salad of Young Market Greens with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Marcona Almonds, Crispy Shallots and Sherry Wine Vinaigrette. At her invitation, I grabbed a forkful from across the table and discovered that it was bright and zesty.
Rob had a special, which was some kind of cod and potato dip: our friendly server Claudia took time to pronounce the name of this dish and explained the preparation in detail, but I was too distracted by the cute flower in her hair to take notes. Rob was kind enough to share and it was delicious. To quote my mother: “It tastes like fish, but it isn’t fishy.”
I chose the Ahi Tuna Ceviche with Charred Ruby Red Grapefruit, Mustard seeds, Jicama and Taro Chips. It was the perfect summer appetizer and confirmed my theory that the power of jicama is widely underestimated, and wildly under-used. Can you say crunchy?
Before we knew it, the place was filling up, the bar stools were all occupied, and tea-lite candles on every table were flickering pleasantly.
For dinner, Rob enjoyed the Panko Crusted Pork Milanese with Fried Egg, Asparagus, Greens and White Anchovy Dijonaise:
I had the Pappardelle Noodles with Asparagus, Sweet 100 Tomatoes, Crushed Fava Bean Basil Puree and Crispy Lemon. This pasta was so fresh that I thought I was eating silk. The flavor was pesto-ish but not over-powering, like that sauce can sometimes be.
But the winner that night was my mother’s selection: Crispy Preserved Lemon Chicken, with Rice and Beans, Pistachios and Grilled Scallions. This free-range chicken was cooked to perfection – crispy on the outside, tender throughout, and seasoned nicely. This caused her to proclaim that this was the best meal she’d had in a long time. When Rob tried it, he said, “Woah.” Then, because this didn’t fully express his feelings on the subject, he followed this up with another, (and this is a direct quote): “Woah.”
We opted out of dessert this time, since we’d picked up cupcakes the night before at Sweet Revenge in the city, but next time we will surely sample the Tres Leches cake with Caramel Crème and/or the Chocolate Souffle Cake.
So our trip to Café Barcel was well worth the wait, and I’m sure we’ll be visiting again sooner rather than later. It was indeed a great dinner: in fact, it provided us with two great meals, since we all managed to take home half our entrees and finish them off the next night. Thank you, Café Barcel. If you haven’t been yet, don’t wait as long as we did – I highly recommend.
Categories: Around Town