Dinner at La Pulperia (Hell’s Kitchen, NYC)
La Pulperia is a very good Latin restaurant with an excellent cocktail program (based on our visit to their Hell’s Kitchen location; there is an Upper East Side location of this restaurant). A few blocks away from the Broadway theaters and Times Square, the location is convenient if you want to catch a show. This cozy restaurant has a long marble bar with well trained bartenders; exposed brick walls, oxblood red leather banquettes along the wall and blonde wood tables.
The dinner menu is pretty edited to what is generally about Latin cuisine. But as you eat the various dishes, its heart and soul is really on the Brazilian fare – and you can really taste the love. I’ll get to that shortly.
The restaurant’s cocktail program has a strong game. The bartenders create a daily special drink (it was the refreshing, fruity, not too sweet, watermelon sake margarita when we visited) and they could do what Milk & Honey does and can make bespoke cocktails based on your flavor and spirit preferences. The Smoky Room was a pleasantly tart cocktail that has a whiff of smoke on the end note. It’s a mixture of passion fruit and pomegranate juice mixed with smoky Fidencio mezcal and Herradura silver tequila.
One of the bartenders created on a whim for us, a prickly pear Pisco Sour. I love Pisco Sours for its slightly thick, silken texture from the egg white foam and the gentle fruitiness of the Pisco. Adding the sweet, purple-pink prickly pear juice adds a vibrant color and compliments the fruitiness of the Pisco. It’s my new favorite drink for the summer.
We started off with the crudo tasting ($29), a trio of marinated seafood dishes that were very tasty. The ceviche mixto is closest to the classic ceviche; a delicious mixture of octopus (pulpo), shrimp, squid, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and fruity, spicy aji amarillo leche de tigre. (Aji amarillo peppers are a predominant pepper used in Peruvian cuisine.)
The seared scallop with aji amarillo pepper sauce and caviar was served cooled but it was very delicious. The fruity pepper sauce worked with the sweet, meaty scallop.
As for the salmon brûlée, it’s essentially a salmon tartare topped with a mild, soft cheese then sprinkled with sugar and blow torched until it’s caramelized and topped with fresh strawberries, along with the strawberry and ginger leche de tigre. Generally, this is a very good salmon tartare but I found the sugar brûlée topping off putting and unnecessary. The granular sugar crust of the brûlée didn’t work for me texturally and too saccharine for me to care for it. The sweetness of the fresh, ripe strawberries was enough.
The taquitos de langosta (plate of 4 for $19) are wonderful two-bite, crispy tacos that has plenty of Maine lobster chunks, sweet grilled pineapple, creaminess of the avocado cream and the spicy kewpie mayonnaise.
The barbacoa de Pacu Pacu ($25) is their take on barbecued Brazilian fish ribs. Pacu is a large Brazilian fresh water fish and they treat the fish ribs like what one would do for pork spareribs in American barbecue. These fish ribs were sweet, slightly smoky from the dipping sauce, meaty and succulent from the collagen of the large main bone. I’d suggest you to eat with your fingers to get a better eating experience and lick your fingers because it’s really that good.
My dining companion wanted to try the grilled hanger steak ($28) that comes with four sides (curried pickled cauliflower, eggplant chambota, celery root gratin, and grilled spicy broccoli rabe) and house made chimichurri sauce. The steak was done to a perfect medium-rare. The sides were decent; the pickled cauliflower was the best of the bunch for its piquancy from the hearty beef.
We swooned over the Brazilian seafood stew (moqueca) ($30) and it makes sense why the restaurant would have this as their special. The creamy, curry sauce was intensely flavorful from the coconut milk, ginger, cilantro, and other spices. The seafood like the large shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, scallops, large squares of firm white fish were perfectly cooked. The coconut rice was the perfect compliment to this stew. Though, I wish I had a bowl of coconut rice to eat with my leftover sauce!
Despite the fact we’re pretty full, we did end the meal with a nightcap of sorts with a shot of Licor 43, a Spanish vanilla citrus liqueur, layered with an infused heavy cream in a small glass and scoops of dulce de leche and cherimoya ice cream. The shot almost mimicked the flavors of a mildly boozy, vanilla ice cream with a hint of citrus. The ice cream was delicious, especially with the cherimoya. The latter ice cream tasted like a cross between a banana, peach, pineapple and papaya. It sounds weird but it’s delicious.
It’s a wonderful “discovery” to know that this Brazilian leaning restaurant is in Midtown. Now I know where to get delectable Brazilian dishes served with fantastic cocktails.
To view photos of this visit, please CLICK HERE for the full photo set or view the gallery below:
371 West 46th Street (between 9th & 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10036
Tel. (212) 960-3176