beer zaar

I know – worst name ever, and the decor is no better. Like all cities, you can walk into any given restaurant in NYC and have the most amazing meal ever, one that you totally regret, and everything in between. This is one of those places that serves the middle, but sometimes you just want to hang out in the neighborhood and chill.

That being said, Beer Zaar is a decent place to grab Spanish small plates.  They serve a satisfying gulas salad. This dish is not for everyone, because some people can’t take the tiny eyes or the idea of eating young eels. If you are a bit adventurous, try them. They taste and feel almost like pasta, without all of the carbs.

The piquillo peppers with tuna is an easy sell. The rich and salty tuna salad plays against the pickled pepper in a lively way.  The waitress initially misheard our request and delivered shishito peppers to us. They were were not the best and not the worst I’ve had. I prefer these mostly mild, but occasionally spicy peppers grilled, but they are fried here. Not unusual, as the fryer makes for a much quicker preparation, but it is missing the smoky essence.

Last, and in this case the least favorite, was the picanha with heirloom tomatoes, little gems, pickled red onions, radish and chimichurri. The salad was nice, but the steak was overcooked and didn’t have the melt-in-your-mouth texture you want.

The beer and natural wine selections are good. Derek went for a Cigar City Brewing Space Pope IPAs, and I tried the Finback Brewery Zero Point Coconut Gose for the first round. Described as having tart, mellow coconut and sea salt flavors, I couldn’t resist. Dered finished the meal with another Space Pope, and I chose a Wölffer No. 139 Dry Rose Cider – on of my favorites.

The verdict? A safe bet if you are in the area, but you can spend less for better quality at Despaña.

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