Aldea: A Michelin Experience
Aldea is a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the Flatiron area of Manhattan that opened in 2009. This establishment has been Michelin rated since 2010, and recently received their 2018 star. Underneath the direction of Owner/Chef George Mendes, they serve modern Mediterranean fare with the emphasis of the Iberian peninsula which includes Spain and Portugal. Chef George is a first-generation American born to Portuguese parents, which provides the inspiration behind the dining experience he creates. He is also the man behind the causal Portuguese Midtown restaurant, Lupolo, which will close its doors on December 20th :(
I have noticed a lot of people have heard of Michelin ratings but do not truly have an idea of what it is. So for starters, you probably want to know what does a French tire company have to do restaurants' rating. In the early 1900's, there were very few automobiles on the road in France, and in hopes to create a higher demand Michelin decided to put together a guide to assist motorist using maps, list of car mechanics, hotel, and restaurants. The first Michelin guide for the United States did not come into existence until 2005, and the first area of focus was New York City. The Michelin ratings go as follows:
- 1 STAR: "A very good restaurant in its category"
- 2 STARS: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour"
- 3 STARS: "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"
The reviews are not tied to Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google Maps. Michelin has hired food inspectors who remain anonymous throughout their entire dining experience, and cannot even share their occupation with others. Majority of the time these individuals have the culinary education or had long-standing careers in hospitality.
Now that you have a little more background on Michelin ratings lets get back to this fab restaurant...
Aldea has a prix fixe lunch which takes place only on Thursday and Friday from 11:45 - 2 pm in which you can indulge in 3 courses for $45. One of their signatures dishes, Arroz de Pato, is on the prix fixe menu as well. Aldea has a beautiful bar, a Chef's Counter, main dining area, and private dining space as well. I highly encourage making reservations via OpenTable for lunch or dinner.
During my time at Aldea, I got to try sea urchin for the FIRST TIME which was included in my Cauliflower Soup along with black truffle for starters. #NowIThinkIamFancy The sea urchin had such a smooth texture and felt as if it was simply just melting in my mouth, and did not have a fishy taste to it all. The duck confit was so flavorful, and the duck cracklings provided great texture to the dish as well. Their dessert is not featured in the pictures below because I was tight on time and had to take it to go. Their beignets are lightly dusted with sugar and were accompanied by salted caramel and passion fruit crud and were so delish and I felt like I was having an out of body experience when I was eating them. But seriously!
I hope you get a chance to experience this beautiful restaurant, and I strongly encourage sitting at the Chef's Counter as well. This view allows you to see the professionals at work and creates a deeper appreciation for your food as well.
Have you ever been to a Michelin-starred restaurant? Share your experience and drop the name of your favorite!