Don’t go to Sonora in Port Chester if you’re Blandy McBlanderson when it comes to food. These dishes don’t get pushed around. They stand up straight, proud of who they are and the assertive flavors they bring to the party. How does seared free-range chicken stuffed with Colombian chorizo, goat cheese and sweet plantian served over sauteed spinach (with tons of garlic!) in a sherry wine sauce grab you? Actually, it won’t just grab you. I’m telling you, it grabs you with both hands on your shoulders and shakes you up a bit. I loved it.
In case you haven’t heard, I’ll be dining my way through Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which runs from today through March 21 (except Saturday). You can see all the participating restaurants here at hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com. Dinners are $26.09 and lunches are $16.09.
Today I’m at Sonora, Rafael Palomino’s Nuevo Latino restaurant in Port Chester. I’m going to write my review â€” but I want to hear about your experiences, too: whether at Sonora or anywhere else. So give me your reviews…. and I’ve got some incentive. I’ll give the authors of my five favorite comments 2 free tickets to our Wine&Food Festival, April 4, 5 and 6 at the DoubleTree Tarrytown.
Tonight’s restaurant wasn’t quite as fancy as last night’s Equus, so I also took the opportunity to walk around the dining room asking other people what they thought. It was unanimous. Everyone was happy.
Maybe they started with the mojito, as I did.
There’s an excellent cocktail list, with mojitos, margaritas and cocktails like pisco sours and caiparinhas. My drink was a tad sweet, but I loved the fresh mint. Reminds me that spring is on its way…
More than half the people I talked to in the dining room â€”
â€” ordered the lobster quesadilla. As did I. (I was dining alone tonight, so you’re only getting a small taste of the menu this evening.)
The lobster had a nice kick to start, then, through the crispy tortilla, the gooey comfort of (just a tad too much) cheese softened the spice. As I said before, the flavors are assertive and delicioso.
Here’s another look.
Between courses, I went out into the dining room to talk to other diners.
Stephanie Haen of White Plains and her lovely date had the ceviche and the emapanadas. (I’ll post the entire menu at the end of this review.) They loved both.
Antoinette Bilotta of Harrison, left, and Robin Fredella of White Plains â€”
â€” had the skirt steak and the paella. They encouraged me to photograph the dishes. Here’s the swordfish over a shrimp-sweet plantain-cous cous salad with pomegranate chardonny sauce topped with a vegetable escabeche, ordered by Robin’s husband:
The skirt steak served with Chino-Latino stir fried rice with sweet plantain and lobster and braised garlic Mojito sauce (everyone raved):
The vegetarian paella-Valenciana saffron rice with asparagus, wild mushrooms, artichokes, spinach and roasted peppers topped with black olive tapenade and saffron aioli.
Wow that’s gorgeous. It’s like a painting!
Here are some happy diners. From left, Carole Eden of Norwalk; Marilyn Hoyt of Pelham and Lois Amend of Rye.
These guys, Kim Eng of Stamford and James Marcella of Hawthorne (who made me promise to say they weren’t a couple) are regulars at Sonora and were happy to stumble upon Restaurant Week prices!
Fran and John O’Leary â€”
â€” found out about HVRW through this blog! They read the Equus piece and decided to try a restaurant for themselves.
“I would recommend anyone to get out of the Continental-American restaurants and come here,” John told me. “These flavors are so complex and delicious.”
Indeed! (By the way John also had a couple of good tips. He loves La Fontanella in Pelham and Le Provencal in Mamaroneck.)
Here were my neighbors. Clockwise from 7 p.m., Maureen Hayes of Scarsdale, Maude Polo of Greenwich, Gwenyth Kriss of Scarsdale and Salli Garrick of Greenwich.
They were out celebrating Salli’s brithday. Happy birthday Salli!
Now, back to my chicken.
The piece closer to you was rolled and stuffed with all that goodness. The chorizo was especially smoky and musty. I wanted to swim in that sauce. The other part of the chicken just had a nice crust… no stuffing.
Sorry I don’t have more entrees to show you, but I think you get the picture.
Fatima Banosi-Bairos of Rye, left, and Michele Gobbert of Yonkers also had the chicken. They really liked it, too.
Bettina and Erick Pastor of White Plains â€”
â€” had the ceviche and the lobster quesadilla (“delicious”) and the swordfish and the steak.
Carolyn and Edward Munter of Harrison â€”
â€” had the lobster, too (“the flavors were very well blended”), the swordfish (“heaven â€” just so good”) and the skirt steak. Says Edward: “I’m a big guy and these portions are satisfying.” Good to know, especially during HVRW.
For dessert, I had the dulce de leche cheesecake. How could I not? It’s chef-owner Rafael Palomino’s signature dish.
I’m a sucker for melted sugar and caramel, so you can bet I’m a fan. It was soft and fluffy but the dulce de leche made it feel more substantial as it melted on my tongue. I’m craving it now and I’ve only been home an hour.
The crowd was lively and fun, and the food was delicious. Another winner of an experience during HVRW.
Sonora, 179 Rectory St., Port Chester. 914-933-0200. sonorany.com.
ADD: Sonora Menu Click to see it.