Dining

Put An Egg On It

Basque-style tapas in the East Village
Jonah Miller's Basque restaurant Huertas in the East Village
Huertas is a taste of the Basque country in the East Village

We're in a dark wood-paneled pinxtos bar in San Sebastián. Using our teeth to pull stacks of pale green guindilla peppers, manzanilla olives and fat white anchovies off skewers ($3), sipping on Txakoli ($11) from a squat tumbler, drinking and snacking and talking the night away.

There are friendly servers in all-black uniforms and those tins filled with useless see-through paper napkins you see everywhere in Spain. The only sign we're actually in the East Village: Nobody's crumpling up the napkins and throwing them on the floor.

Peter Hoffman of Savoy and Back Forty West is just a couple of tables over at Huertas, feasting on little plates of braised octopus dusted with smoked chile powder ($13)--Jonah Miller, the young chef here, used to work for him.

Miller has a way with mushrooms: Many kinds, simply cooked, bright with vinegar and smoked garlic, piled in a ceramic dish ($10). You'll probably want more, but there are other things to taste. Pace yourself.

To work up an appetite, order some vermouth ($8) made in-house from a base of Tempranillo and sherry and infused with citrus, angelica, gentian and cinnamon. It's on tap, so it arrives quickly, clinking with a few ice cubes and a lemon twist, and it's delicious.

In Spain, you'd have a drink, a bite or two, then move on to the next spot. But this neighborhood isn't exactly teeming with Basque-style tapas bars, so just settle down and stay a while.

Some things aren't on the menu. They'll show up dim-sum style. This means that, in a few minutes, one of the servers is bound to come your way with a wide silver platter of lamb meatballs, sardines and butter on thin toasts with raw radish, fried salt cod or Gildas--those pepper-olive-anchovy stacks you'd be a fool to miss.

And how often can you have a beautiful thing just because you pointed to it?

  • Huertas, a new Basque-style tapas bar in the East Village, has us head over heels. 

  • Jonah Miller, a Savoy alum, runs the kitchen. He has a way with mushrooms (trust us).

  • The restaurant is making vermouth in house, and serving it on tap.

  • The citrus-infused vermouth is made from a base of sherry.

  • The Basque know how to enjoy pulpo, or octopus.

  • Tender potato strands, thin as noodles, with a chorizo vinaigrette and a very softly poached egg. 

  • Boquerones, Spain's white anchovies, are a must-order. They come with olives, peppers, and potato chips.

  • Miller has a fondness for egg dishes, and there are plenty on the menu at Huertas.

  • Asparagus with migas and a perfect fried egg.

  • The illustrations on the menu correspond with what's on the beautiful silver trays. Point to what you like and your server checks it off.

  • The passed pinxtos at Huertas. You don't know when they're coming, but you know you want them.

  • There are tables in the front plus plenty of seating at the bar.

  • Jonah Miller steps out for a quick snack in the back of the restaurant.

  • The Huertas team.

  • Miller makes his own sausage--studded with green garlic.

  • It's served in the back room (pro tip: make a reservation).

  • Lamb leg with green garlic sausage (pictured earlier) and romesco sauce.

  • Room for dessert? Go with the grapefruit.

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Huertas 107 1st Ave. New York NY 10003 212-228-449

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