Friday, June 21, 2013


I'm not sure I can amend my initial review of this restaurant too much.  Tertulia scores really high marks all around, and even though chef Seamus Mullen was cooking for a charity event out in New Jersey that night, the quality suffered for nothing.  And this time, I was in a large group, so we got a chance to sample a great deal of the menu.

So off we went.  On my own, I'd never order charcuterie, but ruffles of jamon serrano, cured 18 months, were cut so delicately thin they almost melted in the mouth.  Picnic-style, a half dozen deviled eggs sported jaunty toppings augmenting
their novelly flavored yolks, from a pungent mustard version crowned with a Marcona almond to a smoky romesco-tinged one draped in anchovy.   We had two skippable plates: one was a salad of crunchy wax beans, whose whole-leaf chicories were a little tough and unwieldy, too heavily dressed especially in contrast to the earthy vegetables.    The other, a large rectangular
flatbread with a cursory topping of somewhat dry, flavorless wild mushrooms and wads hard-to-stay-put goat cheese begged the Spaniards to leave pizza to the Italians.

Everything else was quite literally spot on.  We tried an array of the seasonal daily specials, but couldn't resist some of the menu stalwarts like the coles di bruselas (they've tried to take these off the menu spring and summer but there was too great a backlash. In illustration, we cleaned up three orders.) and alcachofas a la brasa, the latter of which boasted
hints of smoky bonfire char and were served with a mustardy anchovy aioli.   Fried pimientos di padron glistened, slick with oil and crumbles of sea salt.

    Of two cephalopod dishes, I preferred the chopitos: squid with sugar snaps, the inky sauce pungent with garlic and absolutely lip-smacking.
  A second paired octopus with white beans and a kale pesto, nutty with Marcona almonds.  Lots of seafood and beans, in fact:  fat clams riddled with melted onions in a saucy stew of pintos was hearty but lean.

        Arroz alla plancha was probably the most unexpected dish, arriving rolled up like an enormous inside-out burrito, the golden soccarrat acting as a  wrap to encase a decadent stuffing of snails and mushrooms  flavored with aromatics and jamon iberico.  Skewers of meaty cobia spanned a crock of steaming peppers and charred spring onions, dripping with garlicky juices.  The meatiest dish of all was the grilled
 short ribs, but I always find these tough when they aren't braised, a superior method of cooking which coaxes them into juicy, tender morsels instead of grilled, which tends to dry out these chewy cuts.

    And that, my friends, as the hour latened, left little room or ambition for desserts, which is always a tragedy, because there is a spectacular selection of traditional sweets like crema catalana, a custardy flan with a sugar scorched crust, and more novel options like a chocolate covered almond cake sided with (very American) peanut butter ice cream.  But even missing dessert left no sense of wanting.  Tertulia satisfies your very soul.

      359 6th Avenue
      tel (646)559-9909

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