There are many reasons I love living in the city. Among the top of them, however, is Dining In. A service that delivers food from restaurants throughout the city to your door, Dining In allows you to enjoy both a quiet evening at home and good restaurant food. Sometimes, it's perfect. Other times, you realize that waiting an hour and a half for slightly cold and now overcooked food was maybe not the best choice. Or you wonder whether Genji is giving its Dining In patrons the less-than-fresh sushi. Or maybe, as in my experiment with Amada, you're grateful for the food, but you realize a larger portion of the true experience is being there.
Which brings me to the next and most obvious point. See picture. That's Amada's wonderful "mixto" plate of meats. Certainly quite pretty for a "prepared food," it is infinitely more fun to receive this at the restaurant, accompanied by a server explaining each meat. Amada, like many of the Stephen Starr restaurants recently added to the Dining In roster (Pod, Jones, El Vez) offers much more than food as part of your dining experience. As I mentioned in my review of Pod, I know that the atmosphere often enhances the food and certainly the experience.
Nevertheless, Amada's food is amazing, something we already knew, but now we also know it travels well. The relatively simply beef brochettes, with garlic lemon and parsley, retained their medium rare interior and tasty subtle topping. The Entrecote a la Catalana, sirloin with spinach, membrillo and goat cheese, was topped with pine nuts. The membrillo had melted with the spinach, providing a rich sweetness against the tart cheese. Feeling as though I needed something traditional, I also ordered the Gambas al Ajillo, or garlic shrimp. I didn't need it. It offered shrimp, garlic and butter, a less exciting dish from a more creative kitchen. My favorite perhaps, was the Albondigas, lamb meatballs with shaved manchego. These meatballs, perfectly seasoned, were swathed in a velvet gravy that offered the richness and flavor of foie gras.
Even with my reservations (excuse the pun) that I wasn't seated at an expansive wood table set with minimal candles against white curtains, being treated well by a waiter, watching celebrities go by, I have to confess that my favorite part of eating this wonderful dinner was that I was in pajamas watching some ridiculous reality television show. Sometimes, it's nice to set your own atmosphere.
Dining In is available online at www.diningin.com.