Mon-Sat, 6pm-11pm; Sun, noon-4pm and 6pm-8pm
A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave.
Appetizers, $7 to $18; entrées, $21 to $38.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
The great Spanish culinary revolution may
have forever changed the way we look at food, but Spanish restaurants
have always been a tough sell in this fickle town. Just ask the talented
chef Luis Bollo, whose great Soho restaurant, Meigas, closed several
years back despite generally rave reviews by critics (including me).
Bollo plied his trade out in the provinces for a while (the Meigas in
Norwalk, Connecticut, was a hit), but now he’s back to try his luck with
a more conventional Spanish venture in Chelsea called Salinas. His menu
this time around is devoid of tricky, El Bulli–style emulsions and
foams. You can get a nice glass of sangria at the curiously pokey little
bar, and a roster of familiar “regional” specialties (Ibérico ham,
gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes, a dank version of squid-ink-rich
paella negra for two) in the restaurant’s garden room, out back.
Bollo’s time in the suburbs has taken some of the edge off his old style, but several of these classic dishes are worth the price of admission. I’m thinking of the crunchy, puffy crujiente mahonés (a kind of fresh-baked flatbread sprinkled with honey, thyme, and shavings of mahon cheese), the generously garlicky, head-on langostinos al ajillo, and the little segments of quail, which Bollo wraps in ribbons of apple-smoked bacon and drizzles with sherry. Best of all, though, is that ageless Iberian delicacy roast suckling pig, which the chef slow-cooks for half a day in a sherry reduction, then crisps to an almost candied sweetness.
Crujiente mahonés, head-on shrimp, roast suckling pig, torrija caramelizada.