Submitted By Simon Hardy Butler, March 24, 2017-12:12 am
Beautiful places don’t always offer beautiful food, though they sometimes do just enough to warrant further interest. That is the situation with Agave, a handsome Mexican eatery in the middle of Greenwich Village that has the look and feel of a trendy adobe house, along with food that may not necessarily match the setting but stands on its own otherwise. You probably couldn’t ask for any more in an establishment such as this.
Yet this intriguing spot does contain its surprises, and the first one is the winding route you may take to get to your table. In front is a pleasant bar, but if you don’t end up swallowing an adult beverage here, you might be led down the steps to another room in this multinook space. There, the environment may remind you of an upscale southwestern home, what with the dim lighting (supplied in part by candles), pillowed seats and wood-festooned ceiling. OK, so the loud music doesn’t bring to mind anything but an over-decibeled sound system–it remains atmospheric and quite mysterious … so much so that you may begin to wonder if you’re not in New York anymore but perhaps somewhere farther away, in a land of curiosity, warmth and exoticism. You’re truly in a different locale here. Might as well eat it up.
You might as well drink it in, too, as the cocktails are various and often rather pleasing. A “So por Siempre,” for instance, is smoky and rich with the additions of tamarind and almond orgeat. And if you order a frozen Margarita flavored with strawberry, you receive a fruity, sweet concoction … highly palatable. Drinks come quickly, which is good; a venue such as this requires equivalent libations, and waiting ain’t gonna cut it. But they seem to know that at Agave. They know how customers feel.
They also know that a nifty guacamole can whet many appetites, and Agave’s version of this traditional delicacy is mild, well-salted. It’s also a bit too cold, and the plethora of blue corn chips proffered with it may be daunting in its abundance. Other appies may be more exciting–the flor de calabaza taco in particular supplies much satisfaction. These are tortillas filled with fried squash blossoms, and the blooms are meaty, grease-free; surprisingly, they stand tall among the cheese and other ingredients making up the plate. The two sauces served with this starter are almost irrelevant, yet their presence prettifies the whole thing. These tidbits are the standouts.
Alas, the mains don’t make as much of an impression, despite the fact that they’re composed professionally and taste perfectly fine. The enchiladas de pato salvaje, for example, put a deserved spotlight on wild duck breast; the hearty fowl is served with a modest tomatillo salsa, along with smartly cooked rice that is highlighted by the attention to the individual grains. True, it may not be memorable, but it’s a nice effort. Seafood enchiladas, on the other hand, stand out for the creamy sauce that augments the compactures … the shrimp and crab with which they’re filled are a little overwhelmed by the whole production, and the shrimp, sadly, seem overcooked. Get to dessert, however, and you’re back on track: Molten chocolate center cake with banana praline ice cream might be somewhat light and pudding-esque, yet it’s certainly effective–the dots of raspberry sauce that arrive with it make a difference.
Service is genial; prices not as high as you’d expect for the area: some 20-spots for entrees … you know the drill. Of course, you may not be the only diners in this restaurant; this place, like every other joint of note, already has been “discovered.” Finding something you like, however, is a mandate left to you. There is free will, after all.
I’m sure you’re up to the task.