Every time I am on the road, I find a restaurant that is as part of the travel memory as the landscapes I encounter. Restaurants I think about for months after I’ve eaten in them. A place is the setting of a fond memory. To start my Travel Dining Series, I will share my dinner experience at Cosme NYC, an upscale Mexican restaurant that is part of the changing landscape of Latin cuisine. For many years, people thought of Latin restaurants as “hole-in-the wall” type places. That perception is gone the minute you walk into the restaurant.
The Scene: I heard some amazing things about the restaurant but it was busy all weekend. I was able to snag the last reservation standing on Open Table at 9:45 on a Sunday. Thankfully, my friend lives in the neighborhood and obliged. The restaurant is warm and cozy with deep wooden tables, decorated with succulents. The music is dim and the diners are into their own worlds. Upon our arrival at 9:45pm the restaurant was still full and lively. We were ready to eat.
Cocktails: We started our dinner at Cosme NYC with cocktails. I went for the “Striptease” a mezcal based cocktail with vermouth, guanabana, lime, and absinthe salt. The key ingredient here is guanabana or soursop. It’s such a rare thing to see it on the menu anywhere in the United States, so I had to jump on it. It was delicious. I wanted to order a different cocktail for the second round for the sake of this post but I was drawn back to the striptease. Perdóname.
The Food: The dishes at Cosme NYC are designed for sharing. There may be some sticker shock when looking at the menu (coming from DC), followed by the waiter telling us “probably best if you order 2 items each”. Gulp. We felt our two cocktails should suffice as appetizers. Every other review of the restaurant talked about the Chicharrón (pork rind). This was not your typical chicharrón. It was light and airy yet filled with flavor. It melts in your mouth with a savory flavor accompanied by the spiciness of the hot sauce. Delicious.
We continued to our other two dishes. The crispy octopus and the NY strip for tacos. I am a huge fan of octopus and it was the first thing that jumped at me from the menu. It was crispy on our the outside and moist on the inside. The hazelnut mole made you wish there was more of it left. The steak was nicely cooked and served with warm blue corn tortillas. We ate everything on that plate, even the charred jalapeños.
We were glad we only took three dishes as we saved room for dessert. We had a rhubarb tamal and the meringue with corn cream. The tamal was nice but it was outshone by the meringue. Our server raved about the meringue and he was right. When you crack open the meringue and the sweet corn cream oozes out, you know its something special. The airiness of the meringue merged with the sweet and creamy filling makes it truly special.
The Verdict: I may have gulped when looking at the menu but you get what you pay for. It’s not the quantity but the quality of the ingredients and the attention to detail placed in each of the dishes. Chef Enrique Olvera has done something very special with Cosme NYC and it’s worth the visit on your next trip to NYC.