Wherever Ignacio Mattos goes, we are sure to follow (and you should, too).
He's dropped anchor at an airy alley of a second-floor space, where he is cooking food that is all lightness and pluck. To build a restaurant Dream Team, former Blue Hill at Stone Barns beverage director Thomas Carter is captaining the liquid side of things.
Surprises abound: What is surely a winner for the world's most boring-sounding menu item, "Lettuce with tahini and sunflower seeds" ($11), is instead dense freshness, with a swath of tahini tucked under Little Gem lettuce, and a scattering of chia seeds making a cameo.
In another dish, rounds of yellow grapefruit and raw pink scallops intertwine, the colors diffused under a sprinkle of chile flakes and feathery fennel fronds ($17).
Even beef tartare is ethereal in flavor, each mouthful a mix of fish sauce, egg-yolk-fried shards of sunchokes, and the deep resonance of raw beef heart ($15).
This is food that defies easy categorization: The offbeat flourishes and juxtapositions are peculiar enough to make you sit up straighter, but they startle gently. No bashing with flavor at Estela.
Our advice: Seize summer's city-emptying effect and visit Estela ASAP, before the gathering buzz turns into hurricane-force clamor.
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