Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Alobar - Viva la Piggie
Ever since this place has been fabled to open (back in the summer), I couldn't wait to check it out. And while it was one thing or another that prolonged me from going, I finally had the opportunity to check it out with my friend Bob, who's a fellow food enthusiast. We enjoyed it very much and took away the restaurant's theme clearly - pig is king!
A modern gastropub, Alobar has all the components that make it feel like a contemporary, sophisticated eatery. Starting with the dim lighting, your mood eases immediately upon stepping inside, and you can quickly tell that you can now begin to unwind from the stresses of the work day. Even though the space is on the narrow side, like many of the establishments on Vernon, it's spacious, has nice high ceilings and simple (yet classic) wooden furnishings.
My favorite aspect of the interior is the open kitchen, where you can observe the chefs working their magic. In fact, our table was pretty perfect for that, as it was right on the edge of the kitchen area. While normally I'd like to be in the comfy banquettes section, I didn't mind this at all and liked sitting in the middle of the action.
I love that the menu doesn't mess around with protein, and is filled with tons of traditional as well as creative proteins such as pork belly, bone marrow, short ribs, duck rilette and more. Of course if you're a vegetarian, you may have to get creative, although there are veggie plates on the menu too - the meat just happens to stand out for me.
Wild Mushroom Toast - This was my favorite starter, as it incorporated some gorgeously sophisticated elements such as a hearty portobella mushroom, smoked ricotta cheese, soft pearl onions and a fried duck egg on top. The latter was the icing on this savory dish, as we broke the yolk, let it spill over everything and relished each bite. Carnivore or veggie alike, you have to try this dish.
Citrus Roasted Beet Salad - To keep things at least a little healthy, we chose a veggie plate as well, and as we both happen to love beets, this worked out nicely. Although the plate was simple as can be, beets marinated in a citrus glaze, they were vibrant, fresh and a nice way to juxtapose the heavier flavors from the aforementioned toast dish.
Pumpkin Risotto - Another veggie friendly option come to think of it, it had all the components of a quality risotto. I loved that the rice was cooked al dente, however it was also enveloped in the most luxuriously rich pumpkin, cream broth with a healthy dose of peppery mustard greens on top. The contrast between the velvety rice and the earthy greens was just lovely.
Pork Belly Entree - How great is it that Alobar works through a whole pig over the course of a few weeks (a month?) and each day features a different part of it to its patrons? I thought this was just awesome and we couldn't resist ordering the pork belly, with another risotto base (just our luck). Not only was the meat as tender as pie, it had lots of delectable, smoky flavor that paid testament to the health of the animal from which it came. I liked that the seasoning was simple, but thoughtfully put together.
Chocolate Chip/Toffee Bread Pudding - Not sure how we found the room, but when they mentioned a chocolate chip toffee bread pudding, we couldn't resist. I loved how tender it was on the inside and how the chocolate melted beautifully upon contact with your spoon. The silky Anglaise sauce on top was a yummy way to dress this already sinful dessert and although it was small, it was so rich and therefore, hard to finish.
Service and Cost:
Just like everything that night, the service went off without a hitch. We really liked our waiter who was friendly, attentive and brought out each dish in good time. Never feeling like we had to wait long, the evening's service was very fluid and natural, as it should be.
Costs are moderate, but fair for the good quality food you're getting and include:
Charcuterie and Cheese - $10 - $23
Small Plates - $6 - $22
Pickles, Snacks & Sides - $4 - $9
Large Plates - $17 - $25
Alobar - 46-42 Vernon Blvd, LIC NY 11101
7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue