No Paella

The hunk of suckling pig arrives with the skin glistening and extravagantly inflated like an Indian poori. Burnished the color of Don Quixote's saddle, it's coated with the honey and sherry vinegar required by its medieval recipe, and the pale meat is supremely tender and rich. The pig rests on wafers of potato, and three swatches of thick sauce on the side—orange, beige, and green—might have been applied with a paintbrush.

Meigas ("witch" in Galician) offers New York's most sophisticated take on Spanish fare, including regional dishes from Catalonia, Andalusia, and the Basque region in addition to Galicia. The bright and deep flavors we associate with Spanish food are all there, often helped along by delicate sauces—the only thing missing is the heaviness. Located on a dark stretch of Hudson Street devoid of pedestrians in the evening, Meigas turns desolation into an advantage with picture windows that make you glad to be inside. The sensation is further enhanced by an octagonal entranceway reminiscent of the Star Trek transporter chamber. Beam me up Spainy!

We were knocked out by an appetizer that built artichoke hearts, ham, planks of smoky Idiazábal cheese, and assorted greens into a trembling ziggurat ($11); the thin-sliced Serrano ham was fried like potato chips. Also memorable were a stew that mired chorizo and meltingly soft tripe in a brick-red sauce, and pickled anchovies wrapped around mounds of caviar and mounted on miniature toasts, wearing badges of a baby herb as aromatic as Japanese shiso.

Details

Meigas
350 Hudson Street, 212-627-5800.
Open Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Major credit cards.
Wheelchair accessible.

The pig is joined by several other remarkable entrées on the lunch and dinner menus. Stewed and roasted chicken ($19) is pooled in a translucent sauce speckled with blackened garlic, flooding a mound of rice enlivened with baby lima beans, green onions, garlic, and white wine. A plate of mackerel fillet sees the strong flavor of the fish complemented by a vinegary wash. Most arresting is baby squid bobbing in an ebony ink sauce with so much garlic it leaves your lips burning.

The handful of desserts are a hoot, employing here and there the foam treatment currently so popular in expensive joints. My favorite, pastel de chocolate amargo ($7.50), features bonbons of silky bittersweet chocolate paired with blood-orange foam like crazy shaving cream. Also occupying the plate is a berry puree and something I can only describe as a double-decker brownie cookie.

Looking like it was recently furnished at Ikea, the bar is neither attractive nor comfortable, which is something of an advantage, since you can waltz in and graze from the regular menu even when the dining room is thronged. In addition, there's a tapas list that's partly a recap of lunchtime appetizers. After enjoying Andalusian oxtail croquettes ($10) with a crunchy, cornmeal-crusted exterior, and a Galician seafood salad that was on the dull side, I asked the congenial bartender, "What's the best tapas—surprise me." He muttered, "The prawns," and showed up five minutes later with a plate that made me wonder if he'd flunked biology. The four langoustines ($13.50) were like baby lobsters split in half, heaped with sea salt, olive oil, and crushed garlic, and broiled so the flesh remained pink and moist. With flavors this enticing, who cares about biology?

 
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