The press has been fawning over Salvation Taco, April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s Mexican-inspired bar in Murray Hill, ever since it opened two months ago, and for good reason–the Bloomfield-ian touches, like lamb on naan, pineapple and pork belly salads, and deep fried pigs ears, a panoply of crunch and chew, are addictive.
But the overriding giddiness has coasted over the failings, most evident in the three tortas that anchor the lunch menu.
The tidy sandwiches are wrapped in paper and cut in half, and their colorful striations, photos of which have been slapped all over the blogosphere, are money-shots of careful assembly, chile sauce, and excellent rolls from the Teixeira bakery in Newark. So being handed one of their grilled lamb tongue, braised short rib, or confit chicken thigh tortas ($7-$9) evokes the same crushing disappointment of being handed a squashed puck at the drive-through after watching a saucy Carl’s Jr. commercial on TV.
You crunch through the bread searching your palate in vain for any evidence of oomph in the housemade adobo sauce. You taste the chicken thighs that pose as confit but are as dry as dust. The fistful of yellowing chopped lettuce is certainly discernible, but did the cook merely forget the avocado? Or were they being rationed for the tiny $9 pots of guacamole? Eschewing tradition for new and vibrant flavors is admirable. But a hyped-to-heaven torta than turns out to be a lettuce-and-bean sandwich? Now that’s a shortcoming.
Salvation Taco, Pod 39 Hotel, 145 E 39th St., 212-865-5800