- scene: it is all about the food here; all seats are situated on a wood bar around an open kitchen so that you can watch the chefs do their thang
- sip: Spanish wines; cava
- savor: croquettas; egg with pork belly
- sit: I recommend going with only one other person, because unless you get corner seats, you sitting side by side, so it would be hard to chat with a group; this place is for serious foodies, so don't bring your picky or allergic friend
- spend: $$$
- address: 239 East 5th Street (off 2nd Ave)
- phone number: 212-979-1012
- website: www.degustationnyc.com
Degustation is a real gem of a restaurant, a true shrine dedicated to foodie activities. The food is definitely the focus, unfortunately to the detriment of the service. Service is friendly, but not polished, far from being on-par with the exquisite edibles that are produced right before your eyes. The vibe is East Village casual, as if you happened to be sitting around your friend’s kitchen island, watching as they whip up complicated tapas. This laid-back vibe might explain the lack of service, but make no mistake about it: the food is something special, seemingly casual but intricate in execution. Kind of like a Calvin Klein dress….
To be completely honest, I waited too long to write up everything that I ate the last time that I was there- so although the specific details are fuzzy, I can say with all certainty that the food was absolutely unreal. It is the best of Spanish cooking, which in its truest form is both transporting and familiar. The best way to go is the ten-course tasting, which honestly contains some items that I would usually veer away from, monkfish liver being one of them. With ten courses you can skip one or two and not feel cheated, but every dish is sure to surprise. Lately I have lost my patience with long tasting-course meals (Brushstroke, I mean you), but this pacing and size of the courses was properly manageable. Another dish that I am wary about are razor clams- which are scary but popular in Spanish cooking; at Degustation they are presented diced and mixed with bacon on a spoon, completely eliminating and unappealing aesthetics and allowing the flavor to rule. The only disappointment was the idiosyncratic “cheesesteak”, which my dining companion called “vile”, and led to the discrepancy that seemingly pissed off the waitress.
The absolute star of the menu without a doubt is the egg, served with pork belly and a jalapeno broth, simply the best hangover breakfast you would wish fo. Every element in this dish is composed perfectly, and every bite is pure pleasure. We actually asked for more toast to sop up all of the yolky spicy sauce left in our dishes once the egg and pork were done. Do not miss this dish, it is a real button burster. Below is the general run down of what I ate, I warned you it was going to be vague (and potentially missing a course), but it should just give you an idea of what you can expect…
croquettas, razor clams, monkfish liver, hearts of palm salad, fish, rabbit terrine, duck confit, EGG WITH PORK BELLY, cheesesteak…