Actually, I don’t, but in Brazilian portuguese they might, or they might say mandioca (as they do here in Spanish), or, well, there are just so many names – cassava, yucca, jawaw, chinangwa, kamoteng-kahoy… oh, it just depends on what language you feel like expressing this root in. I’ve been hearing rumors of this new little hotspot that seems the darling of the expat community, Aipim, Thames 1535 in Palermo, 4833-3223, for a month or two now. They’re open limited days which has made getting there tough – dinner Wednesday to Saturday only, and brunch on Sunday. I finally managed to get a Sunday brunch free and headed there this last weekend, garnering the last table in the house (and the only non-regular table, a low lounge table – not my favorite way to eat, but I survived). [After just a short time open, here in February 2013, rumor has it they're closing down and changing to a puertas cerradas/underground restaurant format. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad move, but a shame that the place won't be there as is.]
It’s a cute little place. Only seating for around 25 people. It was full other than that last table, and it was full of English speaking folk. Not one word of Spanish being spoken, really, not one, in fact, the waiter tried hard to get me to chat with him in English, because he was doing it with everyone else, so it was easier than switching, or something. Not that we had any lengthy chats, he was reserving that mostly for the party of six Swedish 20-something girls at one table, which he couldn’t seem to tear himself away from with any regularity. It was a relief for the rest of the room when they left, because he started paying attention to the rest of us (and it wasn’t just me, the two tables closest to me commented on it to each other when they left). That said, he was friendly and relatively efficient, though a couple of times someone from the kitchen had to come out and serve plates of food because he was standing at that table.
The only option at brunch is a six-course tasting menu, 120 pesos, which includes beverages (other than extra for a cocktail or wine). First off, a nice little selection of breads – fantastic croissant, one of the best I’ve had here, buttery and flaky. The other two breads, a walnut bread and some sort of spiced bread, less interesting and a little dry. The housemade cherry marmalade was amazing. Fresh squeezed juice. Decent if not great coffee. I was happy. I’m not sure about counting bread as a “course” though – yet, given the pricing, as you’ll see, it’s still a bargain.
Good housemade yogurt, though a little sweeter than I prefer. Great granola and fruit topping.
Best course of the meal, hands-down. Poached egg (slightly over-poached, about half the yolk was at that gelatinous state where it doesn’t ooze), spring pea puree that was delicate and delicious, and a slice of morcilla sausage that had a nice chewiness to it – almost like maybe they’d slightly dehydrated it and then fried it. I could have just eaten a large plate of this, and I plan to steal the idea for something, sometime, down the line.
Main course was a duck confit salad. The duck confit itself, excellent, the sweet potato fries, good, the salad, a bit over-dressed and too vinegary, it kind of threw the dish off in combination. So I ate the salad first, then the rest.
Course number five was the “pre-dessert” – personally I’d rather have had something else savory, and I’m not sure that a tablespoonful of yogurt with a smidge of fruit on top is much of a course, let alone that course number two was the very same yogurt, just topped with granola – perhaps something different? Still, a tasty bite.
For dessert, caramelized orange – okay. Fantastic cinnamon ice cream. The little flower petals, while pretty, were really bitter. Really bitter.
So, hmm, overall – intriguing. I like the space. The service could have been more attentive, but I think that comes down to the waiter’s enamoration with the sextet of sexy Swedes more than anything else. Food – winners were the croissant and jam, the poached egg dish (just cook it slightly less, please), the duck confit (sans salad), and the cinnamon ice cream component of the dessert. The rest, while good, was a little ho-hum, and while I don’t think that bread and/or a spoonful of yogurt should be counted as courses in a six-course tasting menu, the 120 peso price, beverages included, was still a decent value for the other four courses. I’d say it’s more a matter of tweaking than any sort of revamp. Intrigued enough that I’d like to go back for dinner, should I ever get a night off between Wednesday and Saturday – maybe after the start of the new year…. Nice to have another option around for an interesting brunch. Recommended.