Cienega in New Rochelle: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2012

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I drive by Cienega in New Rochelle at least once a day because it is 2 blocks from my house. From the outside it looks like a happening place and I have made many mental notes that it’s the next new restaurant I want to try. Hudson Valley Restaurant week 2012 gave me the motivation to do it.

I’m guest blogger John Lanser III. Walking into to Cienega you are instantly transported from a suburban, semi industrial neighborhood into Manhattan night life. In fact the building reminds me of the Flatiron in NYC. The room has sweeping high ceilings which makes very good use of a small space with unique dimensions. The shape of the room along with the great lighting adds a chic ambiance.

As we waited for our friends, we were encouraged to have a drink at the bar, and we were happy to oblige. My beautiful and talented wife that I love dearly Jennifer had a special drink made with Cava which she enjoyed and I had the more traditional South American staple, Caipirinha. It was also done quite well.

Once our foodie friends, Peter and Susan showed up, we were taken to our table in the “Flatiron” part of the room. My wife admitted that she was hoping to sit there. In the restaurant it is the back corner near the doors to a patio. The patio was just redone and is packed during warm summer nights. Jennifer and I both ordered off of the Prix Fixe menu for HVRW and the options were very nice for the price.

I ordered the “Tamal con Pato”, a deconstructed Tamale topped with shredded duck confit. The flavor profile was very good as the sweet corn stood up to the fatty duck. The rest of the dinner party had one of the few varieties of ceviche that was available. In general, all of the ceviche was well done, vibrant and fresh, which is what you should expect from a good ceviche. Although Susan thought hers was a little heavy on the cilantro. Jennifer’s ceviche came with Papaya which she thought tasted great.

For dinner, both Peter and I had fish, he had salmon and I had fluke. Both were simple in presentation and preparation yet executed well. My wife, Jennifer had the “Bistec”, which was a grilled tri tip sirloin with gnocchi and a porcini fondue. The steak was tasty yet tough. However, the gnocchi were like little croquets. Susan had the more traditional Pernil. The pork was very tender and it was served with a bit of the crispy skin which was full of flavor.

Needless to say, with all of this food that we ate, there was little room for dessert, so the four of us split the dessert that came with Jennifer’s and my Prix Fixe meals. The Budin d’ chocolate, which I didn’t try looked good and which Susan described as “just enough chocolate.” Susan also expressed that the combination of mint ice cream and chocolate bread pudding was like a peppermint patty The other dessert, Flan d’queso, was a cheese flan with passion fruit sauce was a lite and taste ending to our meals.

The service was attentive, yet, they knew how to keep a low profile. The HVRW menu I think was very reasonable, however, in my opinion the regular prices are a little out of sync considering that the food that is served is more traditional fare and not gourmet.

HVRW is a great reason to support local restaurant and to try something new. Getting to write about it made it even more exciting. Life would be a dream if I could do this every day. Thanks for reading.

The 411 on Cienega in New Rochelle.

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Guest bloggers are encouraged to contribute to Small Bites. To submit an idea, email food editor Liz Johnson at food@lohud.com

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