Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Two Cents: Agora

There is a relatively new restaurant on 17th st that replaced the defunct Jack's. The re-model of the space is impressive, and Agora presents a nice ambiance of industrial chic with exposed brick and dark wood booths as well as a large patio. The wine selection is pretty good, although the pinot gris we got for the table was nothing to write home about. All of the mediocre vibe I got from the medium priced restaurant was completely blown away once the food started to arrive. It's done in small plates tapas style and 1.5 dishes per person was the perfect amount of food. Baskets of big puffy "pide" bread was brought consistently to the table with an olive oil tapanade that was delicious. (photo source)
We added one of their spreads made with roasted red peppers, parsley, and feta cheese that was served in a less than aesthetically pleasing ice-cream scoop shape. I was surprised to find the spread served cold, but it was a tasty contrast to the fresh out of the oven bread. We started with some zucchini pancakes that were fried to perfection and nestled in a bed of the best tatziki I've had outside of Komi. The zuchini pancakes were followed by a truly amazing salad (and rarely are salads amazing) made with simple tomato, cucumbers, bell peppers, very fresh parsley, feta, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. This dish stands out for its balance of simple ingredients, executed to perfection making something extraordinary. Each morsel of feta packed a huge punch of flavor and I could have lapped up the dregs from the bowl once we had finished. Moving onto the meat dishes that were and the star of the show. Do not leave Agora without trying the "cheese stuffed" filet minon. I didn't notice much about the cheese, but the beef was some of best cooked I've ever had. I found a picture of it on yelp (source) :

I barely needed the knife to cut through the tender meat, and the sour cherry sauce was just the hint of tart to balance out the juicy flavor that burst with the first bite. Do you see the juice I mean do you see it spilling to the edges of the plate? That's the best description of how juicy the meat was that I can give. We also had a lamb dish that was served with a potato and gruyere puree that I didn't love half as much as the beef, but was tasty. The meat was obviously cooked all day and it fell apart with a touch of my fork. It was smoky and delightful.
The desserts were tasty and most noteworthy for their lack of overly sweetened or overwrought richness. Simple dried apricots stuffed with pistachios and chilled whip cream with a cinnamon infused caramel, this was my favorite. The crows nest of dough with a sweet cream and apricot sauce had an almost identical flavor profile to the dried apricots, but did not have the same wow factor. Definitely opt for the dried apricot delight! If you are looking for a fun communal and delicious meal to have with friends look no further than Agora.

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