Estela feels like such a neighborhood spot, the entrance as if you’re stepping into your college buddy’s second-story walk-up on a Saturday night, bottle of something in hand, pile of boots and ballet flats strewn around the door, your mind on that one girl you met last time and wondering if she might show up tonight. The interior is dim, vaguely shimmery from candlelight, shrouded by hushed conversations, dates and hip parties, a good energy spilling over from the crowded bar. You want it to be a hip friend’s apartment, somewhere that if smoking were still a thing, there would be the faraway scent of that and perfume and jazz.
And fancy ginger ales. With beautifully cubed ice. Surryano country ham. Because, why not? Fat and salt in a relatively primal form. A simple, elevated presentation of crunchy leaves of green (kale?). But underneath this lardo-brushed canopy, some seared scallops, simple and sweet, sweetness that surprisingly held up its own to the herbacious, textured sweetness of sugar snap peas. Fried arroz negro with sepia and romesco. So many layers of savory in this dish, as well as texture – the rice, the slippery bits of cuttlefish, and the tangy spread of romesco. Continue reading