I was strolling through Chinatown with an out-of-town visitor (none other than my fabulous sister) and some friends,when we became starving. Being that we weren’t in the mood for Chinese food,but were in Chinatown doing the “tourist”thing,we took a slight detour and 5 minutes later we were in the heart of Soho at the door to a Latin Bistro called Ideya. We glanced over the menu and quickly checked reviews on our iPhones and decided to give it a try.
Upon entering,we were greeted by a super friendly New Yorker (Yes,there is such a thing!) and admired the atmosphere of this oh-so Soho restaurant. We were handed the Saturday brunch menus (and were assured that everything on the lunch menu and breakfasts menu were also on the brunch menu…afterall,brunch = breakfast + lunch,but it doesn’t hurt to check)!
Yes,it was brunch,but we were in a New York state of mind,so figured we would give Ideya’s mojitos (don q crystal rum,sugar,fresh lime &mint leaves) and Jalapeño Margaritas (jalapeño infused tequila,triple sec,lime juice,mango juice) a try. It warmed my heart to see caipirinha’s (a typical Brazilian mixed drink) on the menu,my husband is Brazilian after all…which totally makes me an honorary Brazilian! The drinks were an average price for mixed drinks in New York ($9 –$12)…but they tasted average at best. Even though the menu claims the mojitos are “the best in nueva york,”I did not find that to be the case…but then again,every restaurant seems to claim that one of their drinks is “the best in new york.” The mojitos and margaritas were a bit strong, especially since it wasn’t even the afternoon yet!
While we were waiting for our food to be prepared,we were served a little basket of jalapeno cornbread. It was an interesting consistency (not your usual crumbly cornbread,but a bit more creamy),and the little specks of jalapeno added a nice and subtle kick every few bites but overall lacked in flavor.
For our meal,we ordered a Chicken Empanada,a Ground Beef Empanada ($7 for 2) and a Torta de Pollo ($11 for a Cuban pressed chicken sandwich adorned with pickles,red onions,chipotle mayonnaise and melted swiss cheese). I have definitely had better and more authentic empanadas,though the ground beef empanada was tasty (and better than the chicken empanada). The Torta de Pollo was a generous overstuffed sandwich full of grilled chicken and yummy melted swiss cheese (how can anything taste bad when you melt loads of cheese all over it?). The pickles had a bit of a kick to them,which added an interesting dimension…and the flavors of the chipotle mayo melted into the warm grilled bread. The salad of mixed greens on the side of the pressed sandwich looked pretty,but the dressing lacked in flavor and was a bit too watery.
The ambiance was so nice inside (it even made us forget how freezing cold it was outside),so we really wanted to love this “new”place we found and I was really hoping to give it a glowing review. Unfortunately though,the food lacked in flavor and with so many fabulous restaurants in Manhattan,the bar is pretty high…average food with strong drinks just won’t cut it. I was curious about how Ideya got rated so well over at yelp.com,so when I got home I did some quick searches on Google to see what other people (outside of yelp) had to say about Ideya…and wouldn’t you know that NYCNosh had a very similar experience (as well as their commenter Erika!) What are your favorite Latin American restaurants in New York City?
Ideya Latin Bistro –349 West Broadway (between Broome and Grand Streets) –Phone Number:212-625-1441