Andanada was tucked away on a quiet side street on the Upper West Side, and to me, was the perfect little hidden gem. When we first walked into Andanada we were kindly greeted and directed to the bar while we waited for our table to be prepared. The bartender handed us the drink menu, which had a selection of fabulous wines, beers, a handful of various flavored sangrias and specialty drinks. I ordered the Barcelona 1992, a delicious bourbon doused cocktail. My guest decided on a Lavender Gin Fizz (gin, lime, lemon and lavender simple syrup). I couldn't stop stealing a couple of sips from his glass.
Once our table was ready we were handed our menus and were asked if we had ever eaten tapas before. For me, this wasn't my first go around. I love the idea of tapas. Small plates for everyone to share and the chance to have a taste of just about everything. Andanada has so many innovative yet traditional Spanish staples on the menu which made it difficult not to order up a taste of everything, but in the end we almost did just that!
First up from the tapas menu was Alcachofas con Queso Manchego (fried artichokes with grated Manchego cheese, $12). The artichokes came out on a hot plate and the shavings of Manchego cheese paired perfectly with the lightly fried artichokes and saltiness of the breadcrumb. Next up were the Jamon Iberico (thin sheets of ham seasoned with olive oil, $25). A long plate of Iberico appeared in front of us. The paper thin slices were so savory and light you couldn't stop tearing a piece off of your plate to pile into your mouth. This jamon was unbelievable. My guest and I didn't even pay any attention to the side of bread that came with this delicious meat. It was similar to a Prosucitto, but nothing could top Andanada's Iberico. I could only imagine this was one of the many fine Spanish imports that Andanada serves up. We were so excited to see what could be next. A deep bowl appeared in front of us with a beautiful whipped froth and chopped chives. The aromas that were coming from the plate were decadent. "Here is the Pulpo a la Gallega." Octopus seasoned with olive oil and pimienton de vera served under mashed potato puree, $16. This was such an unusual dish. When eating octopus in the past it was usually char grilled and seasoned with a tinge of salt and lemon, but not this time. The Octopus was cooked just perfectly and the mixture of the smokiness of the pimiento and the sweetness of the potato puree married so well together.
What more could we have asked for? The chef then sent out two complimentary tapas of fried calamari with squid ink aioli and two beautifully plated tomato gazpachos that were so light and refreshing. But we weren't done. Our last two tapas arrived to the table which we had ordered off of the special tapas menu of the evening. Tigres (mussel croquettes with saffron emulsion and cilantro, $15) and Pimientos del Padron (Padron peppers fried in Spanish olive oil, finished with sea salt, $12). These were the perfect ending to our tapas love feast for two. The Padron peppers were one of my guest's favorite. Spicy, salt and fried ever so lightly. Me, I liked the mussel croquettes. The taste of saffron and cilantro was just enough and the tiny balls were perfectly placed in the mussel shells for a lovely display. They were almost too pretty to eat.
As if we weren't filled to the brim our server handed us the menu for one last go around. My guest and I decided to avoid such gluttony and chose to share the Bacalao a la Plancha (pan-seared cod over carpaccio of Portobello mushrooms, seasoned with pine nut emulsion and vegetables, $30). This was extremely light and flaked right apart with the tap of our forks. The Bacala was salted and seasoned as we liked. My only suggestion is to have lots of agua at the table! With all of the yummy sea salt and rich Spanish olive oils, one tends to get a bit thirsty. My guest finished off his plate and headed right into dessert mode.
As the evening got a bit busier two servers helped with assisting us with the menu choices. Our last server, a tall young man with a thick Spanish accent instantly pointed to the Torrijas con Helado de Avellana (warm Torrijas with hazelnut ice cream, $9). "These taste like mini French toasts," he said. "YES! please," was my instant reaction. This Spanish bread pudding is typically eaten during lent and usually during breakfast time. But if you are lucky enough like us, you might have the chance to enjoy them as dessert too. Out it came warm and sugary and accompanied by a nutty hazelnut ice cream to scoop. I could have ate these all night long.
The beautiful thing about Andanada is not only how magical their dishes are, but also the sexy yet romantic atmosphere. From the beautiful garden atrium to the elegant dining room occupied by terracotta chairs and golden cushioned banquets, you are almost transported to an entirely new space and time. The loud murals of bullfighters and gorgeous burnt red brick walls bring the entire space to life. Until we meet again, Andanada, you were lovely.
Andanada also servers lunch and brunch and can hold private events for up to 50 people.
Andanada: 141 W 69th Street New York, NY 10023. Tel: 646-692-8762.