When Sherry visited, we made dinner reservations at Rayuela in the Lower East Side. I soon discovered that Google maps lets you go from street view into the restaurant. These business walk throughs are pretty nifty!
Below are some screenshots from Google maps. Gorgeous, glowing space. And yes, there is a tree in the middle of the restaurant! There are plenty of pretty photos on their website, including one of the bathroom. At night, the space was so enchanting. Candles everywhere, even in the metal cage attached to the front door. We were seated upstairs in one of the booths. So comfy, with flowing curtains separating our table from the tables to the left/right. To be completely honest, I’m not a big fan of tapas. I *love* the idea of tapas paired with wine, but I’ve never really been wowed by tapas. I’ve also never visited Spain, so maybe I haven’t tasted legit tapas yet. Also, it always seems a bit overpriced. Smaller portions than the standard appetizer or entree, but often similarly priced. Honestly, I was more excited about the interior space (with the tree!) than the food. That said, this was definitely a positive tapas experience! The food really was quite exquisite. Throw in the ambiance and company, Rayuela is a winner! (I’m sure the very large glasses of Merlot helped too.) We ordered the following tapas to share:
- Albondiagas ($12): lamb meatballs with Galician tetilla cheese sauce, dusting of pancetta, white asparagus.
- Patatas Criollas Bravas ($7): crispy yellow potatoes with spicy chili sauce.
- Catalan Spinach ($7): sauteed with pine nuts, golden raisins and pepper flakes.
- Empanada de Pato Encedido ($9): duck confit, caramelized onions and figs in a puff pastry dough.
- Hamburguesita ($10): braised short ribs slider, shoestrings patatas bravas, chipotle-membrillo demi, crispy shallots and chimichurri.
For me, the standouts were the lamb meatballs, spinach, sliders. The lamb was so juicy. That sauce was incredible — I wanted to drink it all! Paired beautifully with the Merlot I was sipping. I love spinach, especially when it’s got pepper flakes. The sliders were absolutely delish. Braised short ribs never fail to impress me. The shoestring potatoes were fun, but difficult to eat. So glad we got 2 orders of the sliders! We then ordered the Paella de Pulpo ($31) to share, which John didn’t even try because he is Not A Seafood Fan At All. Saffron rice, Spanish octopus, mussels, clams, sepia, lemon aioli. Isn’t it pretty?The octopus tentacles (probably the scariest looking ingredient for John) were surprisingly tender. I expected it to be chewy and bland, but that was not the case. The clams were all buttery with a refreshing lemon flavor, mmm. And the rice was sooooo good… oh right, because it’s so damn greasy. Hah. A $30 entree seems a bit steep, but when you take into account all the seafood, it’s not too bad. John and I were too full for dessert, but Sherry and her cousin, Yale (who happens to go to Yale, lol), shared the Paraiso de Citricos ($9). Yuzu infused cake, layered with mandarin-apricot gelee, creamy milk chocolate mousse and ginger ice cream. I didn’t taste the dessert, but it looked quite lovely. Right before Sherry took a photo of the dessert, she asked it to “Say cheese!” Hahaha.