New East Village Tapas Spot

By Ratha Tep Posted May 24, 2007

I had such a resplendent meal at Cal Pep in Barcelona in March that I’ve shuddered at the thought of going to any tapas spot since. So when David Seigal, co-chef of Mercat on Bond Street in New York City, said that Cal Pep was one of the inspirations behind the new tapas spot, I tried hard to suppress a smirk. But I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, shocked would be a better word. I could pop one after another of the lusciously fatty Mallorcan sobrassada on toast, but I’m glad I stopped after a few, or else I would have missed out on all the other insanely delicious dishes on the menu, like the exceptionally flavorful house-cured salt-cod fritters—an item I had previously banished to the Land of Dull and Mushy. But the menu was more than just typical tapas; the super-tender braised pork belly, for example, had an unexpectedly brilliant touch: crispy water chestnuts for excellent textural contrast. Would I go again? Definitely, without a smirk for miles.

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