I have been on a tapas-kick lately, so it was only a matter of time before I would discover the deliciousness that is Ventanas under the High Line in the Meatpacking District. The space is quite large (with a hint of swank) and the decor reminded me of a Moroccan/Arabian/Latin pleasure den: there’s a velvet loungey area with big couches, a more formal dining area with wood and iron tables, and sexy stained glass lanterns all over. During the evening hours I imagine this place is filled with dates and boozy coworkers, but in the light of day, the ambiance is quiet…perhaps a little too quiet.
Given the caliber of the food, I was shocked at how empty it was during lunch. The location is a little hidden (right under the High Line on 10th ave, next to Equinox), so I don’t think there is a lot of foot traffic, but if it were me, I would start some tapas-sampling out by Chelsea Market or something. Some guac and plantain chips for your travels maybe? Or some delicious empanadas while you shop? No??
The lunch menu is a shortened version of the dinner menu, with smaller entrees and fewer tapas options. Some things are only available for lunch though, like the short rib kebabs and cous cous. Yum. Nick joined me for this lunch, and we started off traditionally with some guacamole and plantain chips – super creamy and buttery, with just the right amount of salt and lime. I make a mean guac, but this one could beat the jalapenos out of mine any day; the plantain chips were great too. For a slightly unhealthier, deep-fried tapas dish, you really want to try the manchego cheese and spinach empanadas. These crispy pockets are stuffed with a creamy, cheesy spinach filling that melts in your mouth. Whoa. Very impressed with these and would definitely say they are a must-try.
Maduros are sweet plantains, and Ventanas takes them and stuffs them with Spanish ham and cheese. This is one variation of plantains I have never tried, but my palate horizons are constantly expanding. They were sweet on the outside, but salty and delicious on the inside. Just like me. (what?)
Since it was lunchtime, I was kind of craving a wrap. What a GIRL thing to do! I know, I’m sorry, but sometimes I just need to be healthy. NOT. This was not a healthy wrap – it was two small flour tortillas (yes, two!) filled with a buttery and garlic-infused rice and shrimp mixture. Delish. The shrimp were bite sized and tender, while the rice was full of that delicious garlic butter flavor and aroma. Mmmm. It’s served with a small salad that packs a vinegary punch, which was a refreshing contrast to the heavy butter.
Nick ordered the paellita, which is basically a diminutive version of the paella that is served during dinner time. Shrimp, clams, mussels, sausage, and rice. YUM. Honestly, this was easily one of the best paellas I’ve had in a while. Granted, it’s not something I order all the time, but the last few times I’ve had it I thought it was fishy and rubbery. This was perfectly cooked, well seasoned, and again, that rice is worth coming back for.
Unfortunately I had little to no room left for dessert, but believe me I plan on coming back for dinner. I want to see what this crowd looks like under the dim glow of the stained glass lanterns…and by “crowd” I obviously mean shrimp, plantains, and rice.
100 10th ave (btwn 16th and 17th st)
Click here for site and reservations