Café cooking is a nomad business, particularly nowadays, and throughout recent years, hardly any cooks have voyaged all the more generally around the city (or had their movements chronicled all the more eagerly) than Victoria Blamey. Subsequent to working in a progression of high-profile kitchens, including Corton and Atera, the Chilean-conceived culinary specialist leaving her imprint the manner in which numerous cooks used to do, with an exquisitely envisioned beefburger at the reboot of the old West Village bar Chumley’s (“a sexual sonnet on the topic of fat,” Pete Wells called it). From that point, it was on to Gotham Bar and Grill for a brief yet all around inspected stretch, followed, when the COVID torrent hit, by a progression of “residencies” – one in Connecticut, one more at the Fulgurances Laundromat in Greenpoint, and a third at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture out in Westchester.
Presently comes Mena, a shoe box of a spot off the entryway of the Walker Hotel in Tribeca, which has that specific fashion awareness and lastingness that, for some explanation, has escaped Blamey throughout her peripatetic huge city vocation. The clean 45-seat foundation (named for the culinary expert’s incredible auntie) includes clean marble tabletops, whitewashed dividers, and an agreeable banquette shrouded in blue felt running the length of the room. Stylish South American tunes blend with the ameliorating sound of mixed drinks being shaken at the bar, and assuming that you end up rolling in from the prudent entry off Cortlandt Alley, it seems like the sort of complex, surprising put you could have staggered on, back in the lighthearted pre-pandemic times, following a wonderful day meandering the roads of Lisbon, say, or Barcelona or Santiago.
Blamey’s smaller menu, which is an altered prix fixe costing somewhat more than $100 for three courses with choices in addition to dessert, radiates a comparative sort of idiosyncratic, aggressive pre-COVID fascinate. To the mistake of a portion of my visitors, her group satisfying burger is no place in sight. All things considered, there is a gleaming Japanese sardine matched with wiri peppers and potato salad, and South American locro chowder served in a stoneware bowl. In the event that you had visited as of late, you could have browsed painstakingly obtained shellfish (mussels, clams, and cherrystones) or blood hotdog or a whole broiled squab for two, coated with honey and introduced dismantled, including the heart and conveniently grafted head, on a square of dark record.
The previously mentioned shimmering sardine from Tokyo Bay tasted of solace and the ocean, and it was plated for additional newness with an embellishing cover of cool cut daikon on top. There were likewise pieces of surf shellfish in a stock layered with citrus (Seville oranges and Nagami kumquats, in case it wasn’t already obvious), and little donut rings made of scallop with salted sunchokes in the center, put, a piece ungracefully, in a distinctively orange leche de tigre sauce. The following rush of dishes included Spanish lentils finished off with frizzled shavings of trumpet mushroom and a play on the French adaptation of stuffed cabbage (chou farci), which Blamey and her cooks skillfully build with a smooth ivory-hued scallop mousse crushed between plates of green ocean lettuce (it’s a sort of green growth) and lay on a frothy, chowder like decrease.