Last week I attended Calle Ocho‘s blogger tasting event, where I was treated to a multi-course meal inspired by Latin and Spanish flavors. Calle Ocho recently changed locations and is now located inside The Excelsior Hotel; I had been to the former location, but how would this new venue fare?
After starting out with a yummilicious mojito, I perused the menu. Mmm, ceviche! One of my fave:
The starter rolls were warm and toasty – the waiter said they were gluten free, which is a plus for those with that dietary restriction. Instead of my usual fave, butter, the rolls were served with a black bean dip. The slightly cheesy flavor of the rolls (I forgot what type of cheese was in the dough) complemented the mild but flavorful dip perfectly.
We started with the Ceviche duo – on the left is cured salmon, aji amarillo, sour orange and pineapple. On the right is marinated aji tuna, ginger, cilantro and mustard vinaigrette:
We then were presented with the appetizer (first picture) – a duo of my very FAVE Bacon Wrapped Almond Stuffed Dates, Hearts of Palm, Cabrales; plus Colombian Sweet Corn Arepa, Ropa Vieja, Crema Nata and Criolla Salad. Bacon wrapped dates are one of my very favorite tapas dishes ever – I love the sweet and savory dichotomy as well as the crispy/fleshy texture. These were perfect. The corn arepa was also on point, without being cloyingly sweet.
For the fish course, we were served Striped Bass with Serrano Ham-Chick Pea and Roasted Pepper Sauce:
Roasted red pepper isn’t usually my flavor of choice, but the Serrano ham made up for it! The fish tasted fresh and well-prepared and the red pepper sauce added a hint of sweetness without being overpowering.
By now I was quite full, but with a meat course and dessert still be had, I soldiered on. We next had the Cuban Style “Steak Frites,” with Traditional Chimichurri:
I especially enjoyed the fries (they weren’t potato. Yucca perhaps?), though I was a bit confused by the chimichurri sauce – I couldn’t find it! The steak was prepared medium rare, and the fried onions on top were a nice touch. Overall, thumbs up!
We ended the multi-course meal with my favorite dish: dessert! Tonight it was a Dark Chocolate Cake, with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream.
I can sometimes be a bit wary of chocolate desserts, just because I’ve had so many that look very chocolatey but taste not that chocolatey. Fortunately, this was not the case with this domino dessert. The ice cream had a very light dulce de leche flavor that went very well with the cake. I only wish there were more of it!
In all, Calle Ocho‘s menu has remained consistently good – I especially enjoyed the ceviches and appetizers. The decor and ambiance were lively; I could see this being a good place for groups to share small plates. If you’re ever in the UWS, check it out!