It’s a rainy Thursday afternoon here in New York City and the streets are a bit empty as the downpour continues all afternoon but this does not stop us from visiting Café Salmagundi at 51 Irving Place.
Part of the Jamo Incorporated restaurant group which also owns other hot spots like Osamil, Osamil Upstairs Speak Easy and the Izakaya Nomad. Café Salmagundi showcases a modern American menu by Chef Louis Robles who is an Alumni of Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island. He originally hails from Los Angeles, California and credits his abuela Graciela for getting him started on the path of cooking. His abuela’s tamales was what sparked the curiosity to learn in the kitchen and create dishes that are inspired by his background and past experiences. Chef Nate Williams of Sienna restaurant in Rhode Island is who he helped him mature both as a Chef and person while working for him during his stint in Rhode Island and the influence strongly reflects on his current style of cooking.
At the helm of the beverage program is Rey Angelo Honrade who was born in Manila, Philippines. He handles the bar program for the entire restaurant group and also concocts the cocktails for Lamon Lagok, a Philippine inspired pop-up group currently doing their residency at Tsismis NYC in the lower east side. He arrived in the restaurant scene here in NYC via the UN where he first started working before, he met his mentors Tomas De Los Reyes of Don Papa Rum and Marlo Gamora of Santa Teresa Rum. It was his lifelong dream to become a mixologist and showcase his skills and talent behind the bar and highlighting Philippine products and ingredients. His creations are definitely a work of art as he carefully blends flavors and colors with various spirits that come out looking like paintings but when tasted are just perfectly balanced.
Cauliflower was the first dish that they served to us and this was the best way to start the meal. It had sweet potato puree, crispy kale and sour cream which complimented the charred cauliflower perfectly and the omija berry was an excellent addition.
Pimm’s Cup arrived at our table from the bar and immediately the floating layer of various colors stand out and the applejack and fresh cucumber water gave this drink a fresh spin.
The steaming mussels pot followed after and the smoked fish broth was to die for, where the freshly baked sourdough found itself soaked in. The hanger steak was our 3rd dish and this came with a pumpkin seed puree, salsa verde and grilled shishito peppers and baked potato. The steak was cooked to perfection and the garnishes balanced the meat with spiciness and acidity that made the Rum en Roses a perfect companion to the dish.
We ended our meal with the Short Rib entrée which was the highlight of the meal. It was tenderly braised in red wine and soy sauce reduction and served with shitake mushrooms and cipollini onions.
They paired this dish with a specially crafted cocktail for the evening called “El Russo” made by Dominick Russo which was a butterfly pea infused Brooklyn Gin with lime and lemonade that looked so elegant on the coupe glass and tasted even better.
This was such a fun evening to remember, and I cannot wait to visit their other locations in the future.