Añejo Tequileria = Perfection
It was one of those mid-week days during early February. The kind of day when you can’t believe you still have two more days to go until the weekend and worse, two more months until daylight savings time pushes us from pitch black evenings into a tolerable east-coast, early Spring. I was so tempted to go home but forced myself to attend my last meeting of the day. And I’m so glad I did.
When I walked into Añejo, the small Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, my spirit was immediately lifted. The dim lighting, exposed brick and communal tables felt so cozy and inviting. A cocktail was the first order of business. One of the many interesting tequila and mescal based drinks helped take the edge off the outside chill. And then…the food! In vein of the small-plate trend, which I am fan of, Chef Angelo Sosa’s menu portrays versions of what most of us consider to be traditional Mexican preparations, which he balances with just enough of a modern twist as not to compromise the comforting, familiar flavors of Mexican fare.
My business partner (who picked the restaurant based on a soft spot for Chef Sosa’s persona on Top Chef) and I ordered the ceviche trio, guacamole trio, short rib and fish tacos. Excited by promise of satisfaction, we held on to a menu just in case we wanted to order more. Each of the ceviches was bold and exclusive in flavor, respectively carrying distinct tastes of sweet, salty, sour and savory, one preparation cerebrally playing off another. In an opposite flavor profile approach, each of the guacamoles in the guacamole trio, combined sweet and salty with smoky notes from chipotle, and a hint of crunch from pumpkin seed and pomegranate. Instead of typical triangular corn chips for dipping, Añejo serves up a basket of whole tortillas, perfectly fried and salted. Approaching my capacity for food, I somehow managed to make room for my fish tacos. Well seared Tilapia topped with avocado and habanero crèma, with just enough heat to make your mouth buzz, was folded in a beautiful, fresh, house made tortilla. The short rib in the short rib taco was braised to perfection; fall-off –the-bone tender, cooked in rich, warm spices, perfect for a cold winter evening. Well satisfied, there was no need to take a second look at the menu. My business partner has good taste!