I am a sucker for drinks with a kick so when I heard that Meigas, an authentic Spanish restaurant in East Norwalk, was serving up jalapeno martinis alongside their tapas, it jumped to the top of my “Gotta Get To” list. For those unfamiliar with Meigas, it is has been around since the 80's (also under the name Meson Galacia). Some may recall (either with fondness or not) the elaborate Nuevo foam and emulsions that graced their plates in recent years. However, the menu shifted in late 2008, when Carlos Hernandez took over the helm bringing with him a return to more traditional Spanish tapas with a modern flair.
Eager to get my hands on this jalepeno martini and to get to the bottom of Meigas' uneven reviews, my friend and I headed over for lunch last Saturday. We found our way through the side street entrance of 10 Wall Street, the office building that houses Meigas and wound our way down the spiral staircase to the main entrance. We had worked up quite an appetite just getting there, so you can well imagine our disappointment when we were informed that Meigas was not, in fact, open for lunch on Saturdays. ¡Cállate! No lo creo!!! Translation: Shut up! I don’t believe it!!! Not to worry though because manager Mario Aguilar, upon seeing two damsels in distress, came to our rescue and generously offered to feed us anyway. Talk about customer service. I crossed my fingers that the food would live up to the owner's hospitality.
We were welcomed into the small restaurant with its yellow and golden warmth and exposed brick walls. The colorful pottery adorning the walls and credenzas enhanced the authentic charm of the space. Mario asked if we wanted a beverage to start. That was a rhetorical question, right?! I told him that I had heard they make a mean jalapeno martini. He informed me that the rumor was true, and that it was his very own creation. So off Mario went to muddle our jalapeno and cucumber. Mix ‘em up with some enchanting spirits, and a touch of honey to sweeten, and we had ourselves some beautifully bright green cocktails, fancifully garnished with cucumber sticks.
After we started in on our drinks, Mario brought us out some warm bread and a dish of olive oil. We told him that we wanted to try their Tapas Tasting Menu, which includes three rounds of three tastings, followed by a triple dessert tasting. This special menu is available Sun-Thu for $64 a couple, and dishes change weekly based on the season and availability of ingredients. After a brief introduction to Chef Pepo, our food started pouring out from the kitchen. The first round included lamb ravioli, avocado salad with shrimp, and chicken croquettes. All were artfully conceived and quite good, but the little chicken croquettes were definitely my favorite… crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, with flavors reminiscent of homemade chicken pot pie. Round 2 provided us with clams in white wine sauce, seafood and salmon terrine on toast, and seared cod in orange sauce. No complaints with the cod. I gobbled it all up. To be completely honest however, I am not a fan of mollusks or terrines. But because Mario and Chef Pepo were such gracious hosts, I had no choice but to taste all the food they set before me. The clams were bathed in a wine sauce that was fragrant and tasty (I sopped it all up with my bread), but alas eating the clams reminded me of why I don’t usually eat clams. The terrine was very light and fluffy, as a terrine should be, but there is just something about pureed seafood (or any meat for that matter) that remains less than appetizing to me. Despite my personal food preferences, I managed to finish off all the clams, and one of the two terrines…A victory for Chef Pepo.
After round two we were pretty full, but somehow found a smidgen of room to fit in nibbles of Round 3. This time we got braised short rib with ginger infused gravy, picillo pepper stuffed with veggies, and organic chicken with mushrooms and apricots. They were all very done beautifully, with the succulent short ribs being the winner. I wish they had come before the seafood tasting so I could have used the excuse “I’m just too full.” Is that wrong? And just when we thought we could sit back and loosen our belts…oh wait, ladies don’t do that… dessert arrived. It included a warm almond crusted chocolate ball with coconut foam, bread pudding with lemon sorbet, and white chocolate cake with passion fruit ice cream. All accompanied by a glass of moscato. It’s common knowledge that everyone has a second stomach for dessert, so thankfully I was able to put down all those tasty morsels. No doggie bag necessary.
All in all, it was a phenomenal two hours of first class food and service. Mario and Chef Pepo were the consummate hosts. I will certainly be making my way back to Meigas often for the jalapeno martini, and to try out other selections from their menu. Mario informed us that Sunday and Thursday they offer a half-priced wine menu, while Monday through Wednesday they offer a special $24 3-course prix fix menu. Just remember, they are not…I repeat NOT…open for lunch on Saturday.
Photography for Meigas was generously contributed by Judith Pszenica. Images were captured in February 2009, but reflect the current menu.
Meigas Restaurant 10 Wall Street, Norwalk. 203.866.8800