To kick off my birthday week, my mom and sister took me to Café Atlantico‘s Latino Dim Sum Brunch on Sunday. Dim sum for breakfast is not usually my first choice, but I knew better than to say no to Café Atlantico and a menu created by Jose Andres. My sister gets major bonus points for picking this one — it was easily one of the more interesting and delicious brunches I have had in this city. Café Atlantico also has a more limited and traditional Saturday brunch (which I am sure is excellent) but if you’re looking to try the Latin Dim Sum menu, be sure to make your reservations for Sunday. (Update: for a review of the Saturday brunch, check out Bitches who Brunch)
I’m not sure I even know where to start with explaining this meal. If you don’t know anything about Jose Andres, he takes a very unique approach to cooking, incorporating science and techniques that you would not see in a typical kitchen. He mixes flavors and textures that sound so strange together but are absolutely amazing when you taste them. The menu can be a bit overwhelming, especially to someone who is not an adventurous eater, but it is worth expanding your horizons for.
In order to sample as many items as possible, we decided to go with the tasting menu, which is a selection of 14 dishes. I was too busy enjoying the food and chatting with my mom and sister to take notes (sometimes you need to just enjoy your meal!), so this is may be off by a dish or two:
- mango-anchovy ravioli
- oyster with mango-lime oil
- braised pork shoulder with passion fruit oil
- endive with queso fresco espuma, walnuts and oranges
- conch fritters with a liquid center (clam chowder)
- hot and cold foie gras and corn soup
- potato and vanilla mousse with American caviar
- pineapple-unagi with avocado sauce
- fried egg with black beans and pork
- coconut rice, crispy rice and ginger
- grilled skirt steak “carne asada”
- mushrooms with egg 63
- pan dulce with cinnamon syrup (with a candle in it for my birthday!)
My favorites were definitely the conch fritter with a liquid center and the pineapple-unagi, both of which we ordered a second round of even though the 14 dishes were more than enough food. The other dishes that really stood out for me were the oyster with mango-lime oil, coconut rice with crispy rice (The rice was topped with something like Rice Krispies, giving it an amazing crunch), fried egg with black beans and pork, and the potato and vanilla mousse with caviar. The pan dulce with cinnamon syrup was also a great ending to the meal. My mom’s favorite was the mushrooms with egg 63 — it was a bowl of mushrooms with a perfectly poached egg on top. It was probably the hardest to split among three people but was very good.
For $35, this is one of the better brunch deals in the city. Drinks may not be included in that price, but with such a creative menu and such interesting food, you know you are paying for something really good. Now I just need to score a reservation at Mini Bar so I can finally experience the extent of Andres’ culinary inventions!