Tracy's New York Life | A Blog About Life in New York City: Happy Hour Is the Reason to Try Casa Pomona on the Upper West

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy Hour Is the Reason to Try Casa Pomona on the Upper West

WINE DINE & FOOTLIGHTS
by Tracy Kaler


                                Casa Pomona is a Spanish tapas restaurant on the Upper West Side.   Photo courtesy of Casa Pomona

I've often said the Upper West Side isn't a foodie destination, with new restaurants opening on a regular basis yet somehow often missing the mark. After the introduction of a few local gems like Jacob's Pickles and Slightly Oliver, located on Amsterdam between 84th and 85th, it looked like the culinary direction of the UWS was changing. Although the neighborhood has been sprinkled with a few welcome additions, we still have a ways to go. A recent experience at Casa Pomona proves the point.

Located next to Osteria Cotta on Columbus between 84th and 85th, Casa Pomona is a new spot recommended by my food-loving friend who tried the free-tapas happy hour just days earlier. My husband and I thought we would give it a shot for dinner last weekend.
The interior space of Casa is warm and inviting as well as spacious for a NYC eatery. Though the menu is interesting with a variety of dishes for meat eaters, fish lovers and vegetarians, the food itself didn't quite measure up. Moreover, we found that some of the dishes should head back to the test kitchen and be reworked.

We shared a sampling of tapas as well as several modest pours of an average Tempranillo priced at $10 per glass.


                                                                                                                                                  Photo courtesy of Casa Pomona

They featured a brussel sprout special, which was the highlight of our meal. Cooked well with just enough bacon flavor, the dish was yummy and turned this cruciferous veggie into comfort food on a cold winter night. This was the start of our dinner and we couldn't wait for the next dish to arrive.

Even though we didn't order it, our waiter brought a dish of the Calamari a la Plancha-- with garlic, chili peppers, and salsa verde. Calamari is one of my favorite foods and I eat a lot of it--fried, grilled, ceviche, and any other way that it could possibly be prepared, not to mention I've cooked it successfully and unsuccessfully myself. Casa's calamari was slightly overcooked and just a tad rubbery, yet still tolerable. But the accompanying flavors of the peppers and salsa verde did not work in this. I felt the dish needed acidity to be complete ---citrus or tomato might have worked nicely. Price was slightly high at $10.

The plate of Calcot or grilled baby leeks with romesco was a small portion even for tapas, and especially considering the price tag at $9. The leeks were cooked well, but the kitchen wasn't generous enough with the romesco, which left a boring dish. The little romesco on the plate lacked flavor too, perhaps more garlic or chiles would've made all the difference.


                                                                                                                                                      Photo courtesy of Casa Pomona

The Tortilla Espanola --- farm eggs, potato, onion and herbs, which was similar to a frittata, almost hit the mark. If it had been seasoned with a lighter hand in the kitchen (less herbs), I would've enjoyed it. The presentation was crafty in a mini cast iron skillet and the price was right at $5.

I found the Albondigas--- oxtail stuffed meatballs in tomato sauce at $9 to barely be edible. The flavors of the sauce overpowered the meatballs, which were dry and over-seasoned. Perhaps we got a bad batch of meat, which should have been moist and flavorful (yet not overwhelmed with herbs), but there's no rhyme or reason for this particular sauce with these meatballs. It tasted like it belonged on another dish.

The service was friendly, albeit a little too enthusiastic at times, with several members of the staff stopping by our table to check on us. Our water glasses were refilled constantly through the end of the evening, which was a positive, since many restaurants refill early in the meal only.

The noise level was average, but the restaurant wasn't full. I could see how a busy bar and a packed dining room could raise the decibels in the open space.

 It's still early on --- Casa Pomona has been open for business for about six weeks---  often new restaurants need several months to refine the menu and those important details that keep patrons returning time and time again. 

Will I go back for dinner? Perhaps eventually I'll give it another shot, because this casa does indeed have potential. In the meantime, hopefully the kitchen will work out the kinks.  Until then, there's always happy hour.







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