Thursday, March 16, 2023

Agora II

Recently I returned to Agora to check out Chef Antonio's new seasonal menu. I enjoyed my last time out here when they first opened their doors a few months ago so I was eager to see how the place evolved given time to run in. 

A dozen dishes were listed on the menu with just the name of the ingredient and a brief description. Many of those dishes were served in tasting portion so at the end the serving size was just right. The first three were served at the same time as an appetizer trio - a single piece of Galician mussel was served chilled coated with escabeche marinate sauce; then there was the tartlet with Rubia Gallega beef tartar plus a refreshing bowl of foamy green bean soup served in an espresso cup. Meanwhile, the crispy Pan Candeal was served straight from the oven with their special olive oil drizzled on the side. We found ourselves keep reaching out for those warm and fluffy bread non-stop throughout the meal. 

Similar to last time, seafood formed the backbone of the tasting menu by Chef Antonio and his kitchen team which worked off the open kitchen next to where we sat. A few pieces of the Percebes (gooseneck barnacles) were served in a creamy gazpachelo sauce and drops of infused parsley oil. Tuna belly, the most delicate part of the fish, was served with a generous dollop of Oscietra caviar and drizzles of garum for the extra umami flavor.

The combination of the rich Morcilla and teadrop peas was familiar, but this time it's served with a large Carabineros instead of sea cucumbers for an even richer taste. The piece of Bacalao fillet looked simple but was flavorful with the perfect texture, and on the side it was garlicky romanesco sauce and piquillo pepper puree. 

The traditional Migas con Setas was given an upgrade with shaved black truffles on top in addition to the sauteed wild mushrooms underneath. There were more mushrooms in our main dish of venison, served with morel mushrooms and sweet potato puree for the rich meaty flavor with a touch of sweetness. 

We started with three appetizers and now ended with three desserts. I love the refreshing flavor of both the custard apple sorbet with pomegranate syrup and strawberries with vanilla and white chocolate. And the final course of "Pan con Olivas" was a cute one - with olive-shaped chocolate paired with hazelnut "bread" and drizzle of olive oil on top, in the similar fashion from how we started. 

I enjoyed the all-Spanish wine pairing that went with our meal, starting with the rich sparkling wine (Corpinnat) made with indigenous grapes from Penedes region. I must confess I wasn't too familiar with the two grape varietals used in the next two bottles of white (Gual from Tenerife and Viura from Rioja) but they worked well with the seafood dishes especially the white Rioja with good stonefruit taste and a hint of minerals. Another Rioja wine was poured for our main course, this time the classic bottle of red made with Tempranillo grapes and big, jammy taste. And we finished with a small glass of Muscat from Malaga. 

(Dinner was by invitation)

When? February 23 2023
Where? Agora, Shop 14, G/F D Hall, Tai Kwun 10 Hollywood Road, Central
Menu Highlights? Ventresca: Tuna Belly, Oscietra Caviar, Garum
2018 Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Corpinnat, Penedes, Spain
2021 Bodegas Vinatigo Islas Canarias Gual, Tenerife, Spain
2020 Bodegas Palacios Remondo "Placet de Valtomelloso" Rioja, Spain
2018 Herederos del Marques de Riscal Reserva Rioja, Spain
2015 Jorge Ordonez Selection "No. 2 Victoria" Moscatel, Malaga, Spain 

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