What I Ordered
Review By: Eric Hoover –
Wandering restaurant row down 9th Ave, near massive television studios, Mercedes-Benz dealerships, and ad agencies, it’s hard to believe Hell’s Kitchen was once a neighborhood not to be ventured into. One of the city’s many gentrified areas grew from popularity of the nearby theater district, and from residents who were looking for a residential place nestled in America’s most populated metropolis.
I remember 9th Ave through beer stained eyes. Just down the block from Luna Sur Latin Bistro sits Bar Nine (53rd and 9th). Years ago, if you showed up before 8pm on a weeknight the bouncer wasn’t there, and not a single bartender carded. My friends and I took advantage of this at 17 and 18. The owners probably loved seeing a Monday night packed house, people crowded in front of the stage to watch bands perform, and we always felt welcomed. Hell, I got into a car accident one night, and after reattaching my front fender with duct tape, we still made it before 8.
That was over a decade ago and I no longer need to sneak into bars. I’m usually ready to leave by the time most patrons show up. Hell’s Kitchen continues to change, looking more like a remix of the Lower East Side every year.
My lady friend and I were looking for a spot to sit outside and have a drink; easier said than done on a Saturday night in New York. Luna Sur had the first available sidewalk table we saw. I guess this falls under the category of “happy accidents.”
We ordered up two appetizers, the Luna Llena (a type of guacamole mix served inside the avocado shell with 3 shrimp) and Cauza Limena (basically, a stacked potato pancake with avocado and shredded chicken).
Luna Llena came out first, with its three plump shrimp crowned atop a sweet mix of guac and apples. A sweet sauce, also apple based, covered the dish and accompanying tortilla chips. Just like the classy eaters we are, we dug the avocado mixture out with our forks because it was too sweet to waste an ounce. No shame when it comes to a meal.
The Cauza Limena was the real surprise. When served, the dish looks like that recently created 12 course dinner in a can: Potato cake, avocado, shredded chicken salad, and then a bottom layer of cake. Something about the dish’s perfectly cylindrical appearance made it mouthwatering. Each bite was sensational and we wanted to order 3 more!
Sweet avocado and warm potato mixed so perfectly with the chicken…actually, I may get one after finishing this review.