Paloma. If it feels like we’ve been here before, we have.
My first visit to Paloma went down at the end of August (seems like forever ago) and my five friends and I all felt the same about what was then Aarón Sánchez’s newest restaurant. We thought it was just OK. Not great, just good. All in all, we were not satisfied. If a well-known chef opens a new spot, greatness or something close to it is a reasonable expectation, so we were a bit bummed.
After my first review made the rounds, I was graciously invited back to give them another shot, and this time Chef Aarón was in the house. I felt better about this visit than the last one when he wasn’t there, I knew his cooking and his standards would elevate my second experience.
|The drinks at Paloma are flat-out beautiful.|
|Harbor Point sunsets, also beautiful.|
|Mr. Hemingway would be proud.|
This cool, end of summer night started out like every night at Paloma should, with drinks. I have a feeling I’ll always be partial to the Bees & Honey but I tried their fresh take on a Hemingway. Paloma’s Alegre Hemingway consists of lime and ruby red grapefruit, maraschino liqueur, Tapatio Anejo Tequila and Atlantico Reserve Rum. Ultimately it has plenty that the classic version does not have but I loved that it was reminiscent of the old school version while being current at the same time. It was one of the better versions I’ve had in recent memory. Didn’t have a problem with cocktails here then, still love them now.
|That, yeah, that’s a lot of raw bar.|
|Tuna Tiradito w/mango aji Amarillo sauce, Louisiana caviar.|
Now here’s the part where Aarón had so much food sent over that he had to help serve it. He and his team brought out a huge selection of raw bar items; clams, oysters, a razor clam ceviche special, Tuna Tiradito, and two ceviches with a bit of spicy kick to them lobster & shrimp. Everything tasted as if it was fresh out of the ocean. Personally, I never go for too many raw selections but even I was in heaven. When at Paloma, don’t skip the raw bar.
|Drool, go ahead, we won’t judge.|
|Trust this: Order the lobster tempura tostada.|
Along with the raw bar items, I sampled the beef tartare that was enhanced by the rich yolks of the quail eggs, and my personal favorite, the light and crispy lobster tempura tostada.
|More pork. This time the meat from pig’s feet in crispy cake form 😛|
After the raw bar and tostadas went down, I tried a few apps, a crispy pork belly with some thin yucca fries and one item that I don’t currently see on the menu, Trotter Cakes. Both pork apps were worthy but if you’re asking for a favorite…Trotter Cakes made, yes, you guessed it, from pig’s feet. They were crunchy and packed with flavor and the habanero mustard used for dipping provided some heat and tanginess.
|Steak in yo’ face!|
The main courses were another area I had no issue with last time but I manage to get more of the NY strip steak I liked so much back in August. The steaks at Paloma are cooked on an open pit charcoal grill. The beef was well-seasoned and had a nice crust on it. Another goodie was the extremely tender braised pork cheeks. If you order it the pork will no doubt fall apart with a simple twist of your fork. The green chile sauce adds minor heat and nothing on the plate overwhelms the dish. It’s also served with pozole or hominy grits. I would order this again.
|A sweet end to a good, long meal.|
For dessert (trust me, I barely had room) I went for a repeat of the churros because I was clearly in love the first time, and Chef even brought out flan and chocolate lava cake to make absolutely certain I couldn’t move for at least 24 hours after the meal.
My second visit, as you can tell, was a positive one. I was thrilled to return but it matters to me that the team at Paloma really is trying to do big things and they care about the quality of the food they put out. Never once did I feel like anyone was sucking up (that does happen sometimes!), it was just regular conversation. And Chef Sánchez is a really good dude. If you’ve seen him on TV, he’s the same guy in person. He made time to go over to each table to chat with customers all while hopping back and forth from the dining area to the kitchen.
To Chef and the Paloma team, thank you for giving me the chance to give you another chance. Well done!
15 Harbor Point Road
Stamford, CT 06902