BAR BASQUE: Tapas at a chic and futuristic spot (CLOSED)

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Dear Food Diary:
A couple weeks ago, I was invited to Bar Basque’s Summer Menu Preview. This hip new tapas joint resided on the 2nd floor of the Eventi Hotel.

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Predominately red right off the elevator, it felt like getting into a spaceship, a rather chic one. It was pouring outdoors, but indoors, the open dining room was covered and well lit by the natural light. So remarkably spacious… ahhhh, such a change from all the cramped eateries in this city.

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Without being too futuristic or cold, they’ve mixed organic details and shapes all around. I loved this table. The chairs designs were also quite interesting.
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As the skies dimmer, it took on a more lounge feel. After all, this is a part restaurant, part bar/lounge kinda place. Great for large groups and hosting parties.
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Started off with a berry summery Watermelon & Raspberry Martini. If you don’t like it too sweet, you can specify. Purty and pink, tasted a bit like a Jolly Rancher, I wished there was more of that real fruit flavor.

SUMMER MENU PREVIEW
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First Course
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YELLOW TUNA TARTARE “PUSH POP”. RED WINE CAVIAR
This beat your usual same old same old tuna tartare on the plate, A+ for presentation and fun/novelty factor. I’ve had this “push pop” concept for desserts but first time seeing it use on a savory bite. That said, the flavors skewed too much towards the sweet and very oniony. The red wine pops of caviar were an interesting addition, but all together it didn’t really work for me. Tuna seemed lost.
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IDIAZABAL CHEESE CROQUETTES

Bite size creamy mash potato goodness. Perfectly golden brown on the outside, soft and warm on the inside. Strings of cheese caught in a web of yummyness were oozing out. Yep, everything fried is better.

Second Course
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YELLOWFIN TUNA CRUDO, AJO BLANCO, CHIMICHURRI
The tuna was off the boat fresh and melt in your mouth. The chimichurri itself had a strong garlicky aroma with fresh herbs, but a piece of fish that fine didn’t need all that dressing. Just barely a dab was more than enough. I wanted more.
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SEA SCALLOP CRUDO, BLACK OLIVES, PRESERVED LEMON
This had that pleasant natural sweetness, brought a smile, it resembled that of fresh conch. Scallops were left intact, enhanced ever so gently by an light lemon cream. It was like a subtle burst of lemon meringue pie that brightened the whole dish. Fried black olives added a nice textural crunch and saltiness to balance the dish.
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The presentation of our next two dishes were pretty cute. It came covered, so I was ready to snap open the can lid, only to see the waiters open the “prop” and reveal these lovely bites.
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SPANISH MACKEREL, EXCABECHE-STYLE, SHALLOTS, CHILES, CORIANDER 
I was tastefully surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’m not a fan of raw fish with skin, specially mackerel, but this tasted fresh and zero fishiness. Just the rite amount of seasoning, dressed lightly. A delicate bite that was mild and tender.
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OCTOPUS, BLACK OLIVES, TOMATO CONFIT, E.V.O.O

This was one of those dishes with long “fancy” names that don’t deliver. I’m a big fan of all things octopus, but this one was a bit on the extra chewy semi-crudo side. It didn’t have that toothsome meaty texture I love about octopus, instead it had a snap to it. Plus the tomatoes were just fresh tomatoes, nothing “confit”.
Third Course
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SMOKED TROUT A LA PLANCHA, JAMON BUTTER
It was like having carbonara sauce on a piece of fish. Smokey melt in your mouth flesh, accompanied by a piece of extra crispy skin. Covered in this ham and butter mixture. There was a little kick from the spices and extra pops of salt every now
and then from the roe.
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The piece of skin was so crispy and thin, it almost felt like eating a potato chip from the sea. Impressively yummy. I wish they sold them in bags.
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SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY, BABY CLAMS, ALBARINO WINE SAUCE
A totally different way to prepare pork belly. No crispy skin or soy sauce involved. Just a chunk of tender fatty meat flavored by the sweetness from the clams and wine. The celery gave it a bright note. I liked it in small quantity.
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HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD, DANDELION, PEDRO JIMENEZ SHERRY VINEGAR, MEDITERRANEAN SEA SALT
The description once again surpassed the dish. It was an heirloom tomato salad, simply prepared. I usually buy heirloom tomatoes (the dark green/deep red ones) from the farmer’s market on 2nd Av and 47th every Wed. They are one of my favorite things during summer months, the Asian ladies have the best ones. These didn’t really impress my tastebuds, they didn’t taste ripe enough. Decent, but nothing to rave about and certainly a shorter name would of lowered my tastepectations.
Fourth Course
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PINA COLADA, COCONUT FLAN, PINEAPPLE SALAD, RUM CARAMEL
Was like a vacation on a plate. Sweet, tropical and fruity. I felt a breeze with every bite and imagined myself lounging on a white sand beach. The flan is creamy and dense with shaved coconut on top and mint strips for a burst of freshness.
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FRIED MILK, PASSION FRUIT REDUCTION, CHOCOLATE GANACHE
“Leche frita” is a classic Spanish dessert. It’s basically deep fried milk pudding. The outside shell is crunchy, while the center is warm and melt in your mouth.
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The passion fruit reduction was tart and refreshing, but I preferred the chocolate ganache pairing. The semi-sweet chocolate added an extra layer of satisfaction to the oozing milk center. The texture somewhat like a donut shell with a soft sweet silken tofu filling.

added bonus
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TERRY’S “CHOCOLATINA”, GLOSSY CHOCOLATE GANACHE, PRALINE, CARAMELIZED HAZELNUTS
Terry Zarikian (China Grill Management), the mastermind behind Bar Basque apparently loves this dessert therefore, it was named after him. We were curious and the waitress “convinced” us to try it (ok, it didn’t take much convincing). One bite and I could see why. This is a chocolate lover’s dream. Thick, dense, creamy bitter sweet chocolate. Ohhhhh! yes!!! This is for hardcore chocolate lovers like myself. There’s a little bit of a kick from the brandy flavored double whipped cream. I licked ma’ spoon. There were some crunchy pralines on the bottom and hazelnuts, but I got lost in the rich dark chocolate. Way better than The Best Chocolate Cake in the world(which wasn’t at all, that post another day), just know that this was way way better.bar basque 23
The indoor space has a really cool/hip vibe. Dark and mysterious.
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Along a row of nicely designed lounge chairs, there’s also a vibrant bar. This is definitely not your usual hotel bar. There’s a row of wine machines, sold by the glass. I’ll have to come back and get a drink or two next time.Overall, this is a great place to gather friends and head over for some tapas while sipping martinis and wine. I’d love to have my birthday gathering here this year. It’s a fun space, you can totally get lost on your way to the bathroom.

Chubby’s RATING:chubby rating 3.5

Bar Basque

839 Avenue of the Americas (2nd FL)
646.600.7150
Bar Basque on Urbanspoon