If you’ve never had paella the right way — the Spanish way — with socarrat (burnt bottom) and all, then you’re missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life. I love burnt rice across the continents. The Chinese claypot rice — when done right — has that perfectly crispy bottom. Korean bibimbap when done right also has that crispy layer on the bottom. Paella is no different.
We began with a pitcher of Sangria ($35/pitcher), some of the best I’ve ever had. The menu had things I wanted to try, things I love from my favorite Spanish restaurant in San Francisco.
Boquerones ($10) was one of them. White anchovies, olive oil and garlic with cherry tomatoes and olives. The anchovies weren’t as acidic as the ones I’m accustomed to, and also, a little fishier. Not the best I’ve ever had.
The same goes for Gambas Al Ajillo ($10), one of my favorite shrimp dishes with garlic, olive oil and guindilla pepper. I even make this at home. The shrimp did not have the best texture, some a little mushy. Flavor-wise, it was good.
Coca del Dia ($12) flat bread topped with chef’s choice — tonight, caramelized onions, mushrooms and bacon. Absolutely delicious!
But what we came here for was the paella. My friend wanted to try the Carne ($24/person) paella with pork, duck, chicken, chorizo, mushrooms and topped with snow peas. I have never had anything but the Valencia-style paella so this was new and quite interesting.
The paella was of perfect consistency, moist on the top with that beautiful crust — the socarrat — on the bottom. The result was a darker, more robust flavor from the meats rather than the saffron hued seafood version. I could’ve eaten more but instead we moved on to Bunuelos ($8) chocolate filled beignets which had nice consistency but I’m not a fan of the chocolate filling.
After three pitchers of sangria, laughing with friends new and old, my belly was full and we were ready to make our way back to the hotel to sleep off this great fun-filled meal.
Socarrat Paella Bar
259 W 19th Street
New York, NY 10011