239 E. 5th Street, btwn 2nd and 3rd Avenues, East Village
Sushi Bar style seating, reservations necessary: (212) 979-1012
Despite the exquisite zen-inspired design, sexy vibe and scrumptious food that betrays quality as well as culinary meticulousness and flawless service, “let them eat tapas” seems to be the approach to Degustation’s price-portion ratio. While the cost of the average tapa is $10.00 and more or less in synch with the median price for tapas in NYC, the portioning seems more Swiftian than Spanish.
Quick assessment: a great place to enjoy some fabulous Spanish wines with a snack, but leave your hearty appetite at home unless you’re in the mood to thin your wallet. Tasting menu is $50.00. If you get past the horribly stingy portioning, the food is marvelous and prepared with flair and fastidiousness. Ambiance and service are commendable, particularly in light of the bar seating. If you’re a foodie, and are into the pork trend, Degustation finds creative ways to foreground the sinful white meat. If you go, reservations are a must. This place is small (almost proportionate to its portioning) in size and extremely popular.
Allow the photos to illustrate what I mean by penury-inducing
While I know that tapas are about as endemic to NYC as figs to Alaska, my jaw could not help but droop, when I got a look the two, 1″x2″ tortilla squares that were presented to me. Such pretension with hearty, everyday ingredients like eggs and potatoes would have been laughed right out of Spain. I mean, seriously…
The pretentious portioning did not end there…have a look at the croquetas below.
While these golf ball croquetas were crisp to perfection and deliciously moist, spiked with juicy, tender bits of port…these portions are insulting .
I enjoyed watching the octopus being grilled by the toque-donning chefs at the bar. It was tender, grilled to a mild crispness. The marine freshness harmonized beautifully with the herbal accents and the smoky aura from the grill. The pork with which it was accompanied was succulent, but a touch too fatty and veiny. While $13.00, is still overpriced, it’s a tad more justified as good octopus in NYC is not a bargain.
While I’m always a gleeful spectator of flambe’ action, at $9, the one and half inch by one and a half inch square of torched dough did not seem particularly amusing.