- scene: Muy Caliente! This is THE place to see and be seen...
- sip: The Anti Histamine, Paloma, or your favorite type of tequila on the rocks with a side of "sangrita"
- savor: Everything you possibly can! Do not miss the Chilaquiles, Smoked Salmon Tostada, or Quesadillas
- sit: Beat the rush and snag a seat in the front bar room, or if you are lucky enough, a table in the back
- spend: $$$
- address: 35 East 21st St, btw Broadway and Park
- phone number: (212) 913-9659
- website: cosmenyc.com
I have had a pretty insane dining schedule this December, but I cannot complain – I have been the Christopher Columbus of Eater’s HeatMap, and while a beach vacation is in my near future, ’tis the season for eating. After Bowery Meat Company, Upland, Chef’s Club and before dinner at the relaunched Momofuku Ko, I had the absolute pleasure of dining at Cosme. In terms of my personal “Heat” index, I am nearing combustion.
I had been trying to get a reservation at Cosme since it opened, given it’s rave reviews and close proximity to my apartment. It wasn’t until Tasting Table blasted an email out about the bar area at Cosme that I realized the bar had seating for 70, whereas the main dining room only sat 60. It was an ambitious move to try to get in with another couple at 8PM on a Saturday night, and although we had backup plans if this fell through, we were lucky enough to beat the rush and snatch a table for 4 right as the previous diners were getting up.
The bar itself is long and beautiful, and there were a bunch of fun sounding cocktails. Absent from the list, I noticed, was a spicy version of a margartia, or any alternate version of a margarita; I quickly realized that this restaurant, while not completely traditional Mexican cuisine, was serious about it’s roots and wasn’t going to be anything close to what I am used to eating in this genre in NYC.
I ordered (and enjoyed) my cocktail (the Anti Histamine: clever name, especially this time of year), my husband got the Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick (a bevy of liquor, I liked mine better). We ordered guacamole while we waited for our friends, and looking over the bar menu, we quickly decided we wanted it all. It definitely wasn’t a stretch to get everything for 4 people (I think there were about 11 items, but all small plates to be shared), and once our friends came, we eliminated like 3 dishes (fine, I can go without burratta at one meal) to not totally overdo it.
First out were the tostadas with raw fish – we ordered three different types, smoked salmon, uni, and tuna. All three were great, but the salmon with avocado and ikura was the star. I don’t remember exactly what was on the others, although I know the tuna had a “worm salt” where they salted the worm in the mezcal and used it as a salt on the dish. I later saw that the mussel toastada, the only one we eliminated from the tostada bunch, was a menu staple, but there’s always next time…
Next we had pork chicharrones, which were topped with avocado, watermelon radish, jalapeños and some other greens and served with a side of hot sauce; all these factors together, the cool veggies, and tangy hot sauce elevated a rather traditional dish.
Quesadillas came out looking much less like what you’d expect, and more like mini empañadas, served with a perfectly spicy salsa verde. Oftentimes salsa verde is too mild for me, but this packed a perfect amount of punch with the cheesy quesadillas. I also learned that Chef Enrique Olvera is using single origin corn, and grinding it in-house to make his tortillas and other corn-based dishes. The corn tortilla added depth where quesadillas usually lack due to processed flower, and I forget what else was in them besides copious amounts of cheese, but there were definitely worth the dairy overload…
A pork jowl torta (sandwich) appeared, but was quickly devoured by the guys at the table… I took a bite, but it was a little too rich (or too swiney?) for me. By how fast the torta disappeared, I can assume that the men didn’t feel the same way!
Last, but certainly not least (in fact, the opposite), were the chilaquiles with salsa roja, queso fresco, and a runny egg. OMFG, I cannot even explain how amazing this dish was, and I cannot wait to go back there and have it again. I have had chilaquiles many times before – even in Mexico – and I have never tasted the dish in perfect form until now. The tortilla chips were expertly coated in the salsa roja, giving them the flavor and spice they need, without making them soggy. Every chip was coated, so there wasn’t an opportunity for a bland bite. There were some onions, jalapeños, and queso fresco thrown on top of the tortilla chips, and lastly, a perfectly poached egg. I would eat this dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I could!
After some tequila on the rocks (served with sangrita – NOT to be confused with sangria, and basically a shot of peppery, tomato-y juice) and all the amazing food, you would think we’d be too full for dessert; however photos and praise for the Husk Meringue with Corn Mousse has been flooding my Instagram since Cosme opened, and I had to try it. The guys attempted to order a savory dessert, a brioche with cheese and I’m not sure what else, and that was the only dish this entire meal that fell flat. The meringue, on the other hand, was the perfect balance of sexy and cute – oops, I mean savory and sweet. The crispness of the meringue was the perfect compliment to the mousse, and here you have NYC’s hottest dessert:
Walking back to the bathroom, I felt like I was in an episode of Sex and the City. That might sound dated or cheesy, however I’ve been to a lot of new, hot restaurants this week, and this one alone radiated the energy that people in the Midwest dream of finding on a Saturday night in New York City. It was a packed house of pretty people dressed in their finest winter garb (lotsa leather pants and high boots), and our table at the edge of the bar room meant we got to watch everyone walk by and really scope out the scene.
Run, don’t walk, to Cosme – while the full dinner menu is supposed to be incredible, we had such an awesome meal in the bar room, and didn’t have to wait months for it.