Estela- Estellar

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Buttons Bursting

Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Cramped chic; cozy yet bustling with exposed brick and candles
  • sip: Anything if you can get the bartender's attention
  • savor: Mussels Escabeche; Burrata; Arroz; Ricotta Dumplings
  • sit: With foodie friends from out of town; With another couple before you go out for some drinks; date night
  • spend: $$
  • address: 47 East Houston Street
  • phone number: (212) 219-7693
  • website:

Did you hear the one about the President whose card got declined at a trendy NYC eatery? Yeah, well we did too ( He should have used Cover, but I digress)… Presidential seal or not, Estela is worth a visit, but it takes a little patience. Estela is very small; Actually not really small as much as crammed. Tables are very close together and you are bound to get bumped or banged or bounced during the course of your visit as you maneuver around, and even just as you sit at your table. I feel badly for the staff navigating in such tight quarters, but all of the servers, especially the hostess, took it in stride (small strides).

Estela is very downtown, with exposed brick and candle light, loud and laid back. Before I say anything else, I have to just get it out there that the food is excellent; evertything we ate was well- executed, and there were several surprising and unique tastes that I will be craving. Estela is the product of a Blue Hill alum, and it shows. I originally was not so into the free-flowing menu concept, but I was converted; it was actually a nice departure from over compartmentalized menus, and since the Pants love to share, it all worked out perfectly.

Estela NYC
Good things come in small packages

We ordered: fluke with kohlrabi and avocado; mussels escabeche on toast;  Burrata with salsa verde and charred bread;  fried arroz negro with squid and romesco; ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecornio sardo.

Estela NYC
Fluke- White Out

Fluke: This dish was very white, which is fine for the palate but not so fine for the pictures; everything came together for a fun mix of textures and flavors, and the avocado gave a little bit of much needed color

Estela NYC
Mussels, trust me

Mussels Escabeche- The sauce had a nice clean bite of vinegar,  and since the bread rested in the sauce, it was able to soak up all the flavors without getting soggy; very unique and one of my favorite things that I have tried in a while; mussels were plump and perfect


Fried Arroz negro with squid and romanesco- Sister really pushed for this dish, and I am glad that she did; it was salty, crunchy and dotted with little surprises like tender squid and nuts

Burrata-  the perfect temperature ( not too cold to be hard and not to warm to be overly gooey); the  bread was strong and the salsa verde provided a bright acidity, evoking the flavors of a classic caprese, but BETTER  (see title pic)

Ricotta dumpling: Another very white dish, this was reminiscent of the other-worldly gnudi at the Spotted Pig, cheesy and fluffy and I am getting hungry just thinking about it

Estela NYC
Looks a little Wonka-ish, no?

Dessert was strawberry sorbet with rhubarb and green tea meringue, a pink plate of happiness…

Estela is worthy of the hype and worthy of the hassle… getting knocked around a bit is par for the course for New Yorkers, and this food is worth a few bruises…


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