When restaurants open carbon copies of themselves in new cities, the results are usually sub-par: either the cooking's off, or the whole thing feels out of place. It's a bit like a movie remake - can you name any good ones? I Googled "best movie remakes" to try to come up with an example, and the best suggestion I got was 3:10 To Yuma. And I'm pretty sure no one remembers what that movie was about.
Amada is a restaurant remake, an NYC reboot of a Philadelphia favorite that's been open since 2005. Ask anyone who's lived in Philadelphia over the past decade to name their ten favorite restaurants in the city, and there's a good chance Amada will be on the list. It's the kind of place people return to year after year for birthday dinners but also for third dates, and where people bring their parents and out of town friends to try to sell them on the fact that their city has excellent food and a great restaurant scene. After a few glasses of sangria and bites from the extensive tapas menu, said parents and friends typically leave convinced.
As for Amada's NYC remake? The most important thing to know is that the food is excellent. The tapas - from little grilled shrimp in hot oil to fried spicy potatoes to a salad wrapped like a present in prosciutto - are awesome across the board, and every bit as good as they are at the original. The service also happens to be great, and there's a nice outdoor seating area and a big bar.
This brings us to one last detail, and it's an important one: Amada is situated in the closest thing Manhattan has to a mall. Located in a corner of Brookfield Place in Tribeca/Battery Park, this restaurant inevitably takes on the recently remodeled airport vibe of its surroundings. The moral of the story is: if you work at Goldman Sachs or American Express or in One World Trade Center, any of the other companies right around here, you're going to be at Amada all the time - it's a great place in the area to grab drinks and light bites, or to plan a group meal. If you don't, getting you down here is going to be a hard sell. While the food is great, the out-of-the-way location and corporate feel don't quite make it a must-visit.
Here's another idea: just get on a train to Philly. It's not that much longer of a trip.
New decree: All salads should be wrapped in jamon as if they were Christmas gifts, and jamon should also be an acceptable wrapping paper alternative for Christmas gifts. Inside, there's a salad with fig, almonds, and a bit of blue cheese.
Crispy potatoes with aioli on top, known otherwise as tater tots for adults. Everybody needs one.
Peppers stuffed with creamy crab, and topped with toasted almonds. You will most likely want two of these.
Little shrimp in sizzling hot garlic oil. An Amada classic.
We've seen cauliflower cooked every which way at this point, but this one's pretty unusual and very tasty. Roasted and topped with mustard seeds and Crunchy Things, if there's one vegetable dish you should order, let this be it.
If you don't like your salad wrapped in meat, try this one: it comes with asparagus, avocado, and fava beans. Fresh and very tasty.
The flatbread section of the menu is tempting, but we've found it to be the least exciting. This one with arthicoke, truffle, mushroom, and manchego is a little dry.