My 24th Birthday Dinner – Soccarat Chelsea
I turned 24 on Sunday! 24 is kind of a lame birthday. You’re not in school anymore, you can already drink legally, and you still can’t rent a car without astronomical fees for another year. But regardless, I had a great time ringing in my 25th year.
We met my mom for an early dinner at Soccarat, a paella bar in Chelsea. My dad and brother were out in California, so they missed the celebration. The restaurant was small and dimly lit, which I don’t usually like, and had communal seating, meaning that if it had been more crowded, they would have seated another party at our table. All of these things are fairly common in New York City restaurants and I’m not particularly fond of any of them, since I like being able to see well enough to read the menu, get up to use the restroom without knocking into anything, and avoid sitting at a table strangers, but on this particular occasion I wasn’t too bothered. Aside from that though, the food was amazing.
We split three tapas plates: a roasted zucchini with goat cheese, mini eggplants, and sauteed mushrooms with truffle oil, and a two person pan of their seafood paella. I think this was just the right amount of food for three relatively hungry people. We also brought our own bottle of champagne, which they uncorked for a $25 fee, typical of NYC restaurants again, so I can’t comment on the wine list, but we’re still raving about the food two days later. We opted for mostly vegetarian tapas to keep the meal a little lighter and they were all delicious. The eggplant was served with some sort of citrus fruit (I said it was dark!) that really complemented the flavor well, and I”m a total sucker for anything with truffle oil. The paella was perfect. Just the right balance between rice and everything else. Ours had white fish, squid, shrimp, mussels, little clams, and I think there may have been more. It was just the right temperature, an amazing blend between crispy rice and delicate fish, and not overly seasoned.
Soccarat is considered to be fairly pricey, and Matt and I have a lot of qualms about eating in restaurants where the food doesn’t warrant the price tag, or we could make the same thing at home for way less money (and sometimes better service), but this is one of the places where I think it’s worth it. I would be hard pressed to cook anything of that caliber in my tiny apartment kitchen, and while it will be an expensive meal ($30-35 without drinks, tax, or tip) sometimes a special occasion justifies a splurge!