by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
January 30, 2005
When we arrived for our 7pm reservation, we shared the large upstairs dining area with just one other table of patrons, though by 8pm the beautiful space had considerably filled up with couples. Dimly lit by low-hanging, wrought-iron chandeliers, and surrounded by warm, orange-colored walls, Destino’s main dining area creates a welcoming, old-world colonial atmosphere that’s completed by jazzy Brazilian beats emanating from the sound system.
After explaining that Destino’s food menu had recently changed to focus more on a "grazing experience," our knowledgeable waiter left us to peruse the considerable drinks menu, which includes just about any drink imaginable. Try a "Classic of the Golden Era," such as a mojito or whiskey sour, but the more adventurous should look at the "Contemporary Classics of the New Era" drinks, which include the Colraine Cooler, a stomach-warming mixture of Zubrowka bison grass vodka, fresh mint, sugar, apple juice, and Goldschlager cinnamon liqueur. Groups might try one of the "Destino Flights," which allow you to sample a range of South American, Cuban, or Mexican drinks. Of course, vino aficionados can choose from a list of over 100 wines, while the rum, whiskey, vodka, and tequila choices are almost equally extensive.
Encouraged to choose three to five dishes apiece since no main courses are served, I chose the escavilada ensalada (aubergine, romero pepper, tomatoes, and caramelized red onions with watercress, young goat cheese and sherry vinegar), wild mushroom and corn flatbread (served with olives, capers, and talegio cheese), and white asparagus gratin. Trixie indulged in the roasted corn on the cob, rainbow ceviche (salmon, snapper, and tuna layered over cucumber with a citrus white soy sauce), and sugarcane tuna.
Each dish was served on a differently sized plate, which further added to the artful presentation that was so carefully created by the chef. We exchanged comments such as "oh, this is so good" and "oh my god, you have to try this" throughout our meal, with Trixie raving about the sugarcane tuna, while I found it hard to share my wild mushroom and corn flatbread. Following the staff’s recommendation to order more than two dishes, the portions were just right.
For dessert we had the dulce de leche fondue, which comes with skewered strawberries, figs, pineapples, and bananas that are lightly fried in tempura batter and braised with cinnamon sugar. The warm pot of creamy dulce de leche with mascarpone and manchego cheeses had barely anything left in it by the time we were done. If there’s one must-try dish on Destino’s menu, it’s this.
Destino has quickly cornered the Latin American dining scene in London. Don’t miss out.
From journal Kicking Around in London