September 30, 2008
Wayne Johnson, long-time executive chef at Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel, just returned refreshed and rejuvenated from a trip to Spain, where he picked up ideas and inspiration for his new Pintxos (small plates) menu.
After sampling through almost a dozen of the offerings, we were convinced that Chef Wayne is doing the best work of his career. From the Gazpacho Trio (creamy almond soup and refreshing shaved grapes served in small cocktail glasses, cucumber soup with very thinly sliced romaine and crab meat, and tomato soup with goat cheese and a grilled prawn) to Seafood Risotto (with halibut, salmon, and shrimp) to Harissa Green Beans (simply steamed green beans with spicy harissa sauce, garlic, Maldon sea salt, and shaved Iberico cheese), every beautifully designed little plate sang.
Here are the green beans, along with the Broken Egg Papas Frites (thin fries and roasted mushrooms draped with an over-easy fried egg!) and the Crisp Duck cake (served with apricot chutney and cucumber raita).
And here are the Spicy Calamari and Assorted Marinated Olives, along with the duck cake and green beans.
Among the most amazing of Chef Wayne’s small plates is the Lamb Burger Meatballs, pictured below. Somehow, some way, the chef manages to place a soft-boiled egg inside the meatball and cook both to perfection. Salty feta, creamy olive aïoli, and crispy onions make boldly flavored counterpoints.
Pintxos even show up on the dessert menu, where we enjoyed both the Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Thyme Cream (below) and the Chocolate Nut Tart with Cherry Gelato.
We ordered wines by the glass, including a traditional Spanish Cava (Sumarroca Brut), Cortijo III 2006 Rioja, and Borsao 2004 Coupage, all good drinking values at $9 a glass.