Descending the steps into GastroArte, I am immediately drawn to the back window, which is surrounded by a colorful garden. When I compliment the beautiful, bright courtyard in the back, Jesus Nunez (Owner/Chef) chuckles. “Take a closer look,” he says.
I stroll toward the back of the restaurant, passing exposed brick walls, adorned with a combination of both beautifully patterned wallpaper and graffiti-style paintings. As I walk past the long bar and high-top tables to the back of the space, I realize that the ivy growing up the walls under the skylight is actually just a painted façade. This is the first of many wonderful playful surprises of the evening.
Just as Nunez is able to bring the outdoors inside, he artfully creates dishes that are delicious as well as visually stunning. A former graffiti artist hailing from Madrid, Nunez crafts every dish as carefully as he would a piece of art. Tonight’s delicately detailed masterpiece is one of the inaugural culinary experiences featured by Savored Signatures. Nunez and Savored present an “Adam & Eve” themed dinner. This specially prepared 8-course menu with wine pairings is inspired by the famous biblical tale, and includes a hint of apple in every dish.
We start our sinfully sweet journey with a glass of cava and an amuse-bouche: Apple Tempura topped with artichoke and asparagus. This savory and sweet bite is followed by a delightfully refreshing oyster. Topped with diced apple and a touch of cilantro, the oyster pairs perfectly with our crisp white wine.
Our next course is as colorful and playful as the restaurant’s décor. A round piece of smoked salmon is topped with edible flowers and “polka-dotted” with pieces of three different colored apples and onions. This dish highlights Nunez’s attention to detail in both culinary structure and design.
The fourth and final appetizer is delivered to our table by Nunez himself. Each plate is painted in a pistachio puree and dusted with pistachio crumbs. A home-made brioche is centered in the plate and topped with fois gras. The fois gras is cut with apple, which has been cooked in duck confit. (Clearly Jesus isn’t watching his girlish figure.) Nunez stays to watch our faces as we took our first bite*. I am not prepared for my own reaction. The buttery, rich combination paired with a dessert wine seems more sinful than Eden’s own snake.
For the main courses, Jesus serves almond-crusted codfish with apple butter followed by lamb cheek alongside a potato pancake. The latter is seasoned with apples, cinnamon, sugar, spice and everything nice. It feels warm and cozy and is perfect for fall.
We receive an apple-ginger shooter to cleanse our palates and finish with a quartet of desserts. A hand-rolled cake with roasted apple and vanilla, an apple bread budding with a gooey caramel center, an apple gelatin and an apple cinnamon cake, which is served over baked apple slices and vanilla tapioca. These light sweets were a perfect end to a spectacular culinary adventure.
As far as sinning goes, GastroArte is one temptation I can’t wait to indulge in again.
*I think he was just showing off… I would too.