Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Restaurant Week Strikes Again Restaurant - Review: Cuerno

Restaurant week at Repast was pretty blah so I didn't know what to expect from Cuerno. Fortunately, the restaurant played its cards right and actually fed me great food at a great price!

Cuerno has a stylish interior with a huge metal bull statue dominating the restaurant, perfect for low key but trendy scene for a date night. Every item on the Restaurant Week actually appears on the regular menu (Hey Repast, I'm talking to you, the point of restaurant week is to let people try the food your restaurant is known for!) We struggled a bit with our appetizer order because the most appealing choice was the patatas bravas, but two out of three entree choices also came with potatoes, so it was spud overload. In the end, we both took the waiter's recommendation and tried the boquerones (sardines, tomatoes, and olives on toast). Because we weren't quite satisfied with just that, we ordered ham croquettes off the regular menu, too. I'm not a huge sardine fan, but the boquerones were pretty good, with a not-too-fishy taste. Boquerones are a classic tapas dish, so they're at least worth trying once. Even better, the croquettes were stellar - hot and gooey and crunchy all at the same time.

Next up was salmon con sidra (poached salmon in cider with chorizo) for the boyfriend and aleta de ternera (grilled marinated hanger steak, fried potatoes, spicy tomato sauce and basil aioli) for me. He liked the salmon, and although he said it was nothing earth-shattering, it was better than the salmon he had at Repast. My steak dish was quite good - the meat was tender and the tomato sauce was sweet, spicy, and a great accompaniment to the meat. The fried potatoes weren't quite as exciting as patatas bravas would be, but the overall affect of Spanish steak frites worked for me.

For dessert, we shared two - the arroz con leche (saffron rice, Morrish fruit compote, toasted pistachios) and torrijas de chocolate (warm dark chocolate bread pudding, sea salt caramel, marcona almond). The rice pudding was an interesting change from the norm. The rice was slightly firmer than I am used to (from my beloved Rice to Riches in NYC), but it made for a lightly sweet dessert that didn't overwhelm the palate. The fruit compote, in particular, was delicious. Although good, this dessert was nothing compared to the bread pudding. Seriously, this stuff is slap yo' mamma delish. It was chocolaty and gooey but stood apart from the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake. I must learn how to make this!

After dinner, we popped over to Beleza, the sister bar/restaurant next door for some cocktails. I tried out the Blackberry Mule (Zuidam Gin, Fresh Muddled Blackberries, Lime Juice, Homemade Ginger Beer) while the boyfriend stuck with his favorite - bourbon - this time around found in Kentucky Trail Mix (Walnut-Infused Bourbon, Fresh Muddled Berries, Stones Ginger Wine, Agave Nectar)

Lately cocktails get me much drunker than wine does, and this drink had a serious kick to it. I loved the combination of blackberries and ginger, but it was sweet enough that it was difficult to finish the entire drink. I'm not a big bourbon drinker (although the smell does take me right back to Carolina football games!), but the boyfriend's drink was actually incredibly good. The berries and ginger flavor that were so sweet in my drink actually mellowed when mixed with walnut-infused bourbon. There was a lot of attention to aesthetics with both drinks, too, as you can see from the pics. My drink is the one with the leaf sticking out of it. The boyfriend's drink came with a cute little bowl of accouterments. Nice touch!

Beleza is definitely a great place for a cocktail, and we'll certainly be back to check out Cuerno's full menu!

Pros: Restaurant Week menu that shows off best of regular menu, stand-out desserts, hip atmosphere, original and delicious cocktails
Cons: Not all menu items are created equal

Cuerno and Beleza
905 Juniper St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

Cuerno on Urbanspoon



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