This is for a series of posts related to Iron Chef Jose Garces including:
Amada, Distrito, Rosa Blanca, Bar Volver, Buena Onda, The Blue Anchor, PHS Pop Up Garden, JG Domestic, Tinto , Tinto , Tinto [Brunch], Village Whiskey, and The Olde Bar.
Having been to the majority of Iron Chef Jose Garces' restaurants, Tinto remains our absolute favorite. However, Amada is another favorite, and is Chef Garces' first iconic restaurant. Emblematic of a Spanish bodega, the dishes are mainly tapas style - to be shared and certainly enjoyed.
The interior is intimate, with dark tones and wood tables throughout. The dining area is separated off to a bar area, two main dining areas, and a backroom for larger parties and private dining.
My sister was in town so the GF and I took her out to Old City to enjoy a gauntlet of Chef Garces' best dishes at Amada.
Albacore tuna salad, capers, aged sherry vinegar, garlic flat bread
The kitchen sent out a nice amuse of rich tuna salad, topped with briny capers and an acidic aged sherry vinegar. Crisp garlic flat breads were a nice vessel that also provided texture to each bite.
Ensalada de Jamon [$12]
Serrano and fig salad, Cabrales, spiced almonds
I'm not prone to ordering salads, but if this is how all salads came out, it would be a must. The greens were tossed in a light vinegar dressing, with the figs providing some sweetness, some spice and texture coming from the almonds, and the Cabrales blue cheese bringing out some funk.
Oh, and we can't forget that this was all surrounded by a cone of serrano ham - salty, delicate, and greasy in the best way possible. Do order this dish.
Patatas Bravas [$5]
I defer to Marcie Turney for the city's best patatas bravas. Still, these were very good. Crisp on the outside and creamy within, these potatoes were topped by a lightly spicy sauce, with some chili espelette sprinkled on as well.
Queso de Cabra [$8]
Baked goat cheese, tomato, basil, almonds
I couldn't get a sense of where the almonds were in this dish. But no matter. While it wasn't the most exciting dish, that didn't detract from how delicious it was. Served with toast points, how can you go wrong with tomato, basil, and tangy goat cheese baked right in?
Croquetas de Jamon [$6]
Ham croquettes, romesco
These croquettes were deftly fried, with salty bits of ham within. The romesco underneath had a nice nuttiness that was balanced with some acidity.
Pulpo a la Gallega [$12]
If there's a must order dish, I would highly recommend the pulpo. These cephalopods had great char that lent a savory smokiness to each bite, balanced nicely by the chili and a spritz of lemon. The texture within was soft and luscious. Simply delicious.
Esparragos con Trufas [$11]
Grilled asparagus, truffles, poached egg, Mahon crisp
The truffle essence was very slight, but the classic pairing of al dente asparagus and a creamy poached egg was delicious. The Mahon cheese crisp lent a bit of salty texture to each bite.
Datiles con Almendras [$9.50]
Bacon-wrapped Medjool dates, almonds, Cabrales
A skewer of sweet dates and funky Cabrales blue cheese were wrapped with crisp bacon to create a satisfying bite. I appreciated the marinated grapes that were in between to provide some freshness.
Roasted eggplant, whipped goat cheese, raisin escabeche
Meaty japanese eggplant were roasted with some balsamic, which lent some acidity that was balanced by the raisin escabeche. The tangy whipped goat cheese also added a nice element to the dish.
Costillas de Ternera [$14]
Beef short ribs, horseradish, Parmesan, bacon
A close second to the black truffle flat bread at JG Domestic, Amada features rich and tender short rib, salty bacon, and Parmesan on top of crisp, yet pliant flatbread. The horseradish wasn't overpowering, but provided a nice foil to the richness of each bite.
Wagyu Beef Brochettes [$15]
Fingerling potatoes, bordelaise
While the fingerling potatoes and bordelaise sauce were savory and rich, unfortunately, the beef was overcooked, rendering it chewy and unsatisfying. On the other hand ...
Filet Mignon [$19]
Cabrales, foie gras, swiss chard, tempranillo jus
The filet mignon was cooked perfectly medium rare and extremely tender. The foie gras topping the beef had a perfect sear, to the point that it tasted like liver candy. The red wine jus was a nice complement, with some more of the Cabrales blue cheese providing a foil to the richness of each bite. Highly recommend this dish.
Doughnuts, date jam, date & olive oil ice cream
To end our meal, we decided to get the bunuelos, which featured crusty and not overly greasy doughnuts. It was accompanied by a sweet date jam that was surprisingly subtly sweet along with a date and olive oil ice cream that had interesting texture.
As expected service was exemplary. While we did order a gauntlet of dishes, I was a bit surprised at some of the inconsistencies in cooking. Regardless, Amada did feature some standouts including the pulpo and the filet. The tapas style menu also allows diners to try a variety of dishes to share and enjoy.