I had such a great experience at Unik the previous week that I knew I wanted to return before I left. They had told us last time that the restaurant would be closing for some repairs soon so I had to speed up my initial timeline. Even from my new location, it was a fairly short walk and since the humidity had finally subsided a bit, it made for a pleasant stroll.
When I arrived at Unik, I was greeted by Angel, the superb waiter we had the first time. Since I was alone, they offered me a seat right in front of the kitchen – their version of a chef’s table basically. I eagerly agreed and soon this was my view.
I had chatted briefly with the head chef last time so he recognized me when I sat down. The menu was basically the same as last time with a couple of changes. I knew I was going to continue my meat detox so I asked him about those options. He showed me a gorgeous cut of fish he was finishing prepping and suggested I go with that. One slight disadvantage of sitting so close to the kitchen was that I also got a bit of heat from the kitchen. I thought a good way to combat that would be with a nice cold, refreshing cocktail.
A variation on a mint julep, this had an Argentine liquor instead of bourbon, along with the fresh, chopped ginger, mint, lime, sugar and soda. It was just what I needed. By now, the kitchen was really starting to spring to life as orders began arriving. It was a very small team – sous chef and 2 cooks. There was also the former dishwasher who now was in charge of baking their delicious breads. The head chef was busy tending to the fantastic wood oven and parilla.
His main station was directly in front of me so he would explain various techniques they used for different items on the menu – pork ribs sous vide for 48 hours then finished on the parilla, their smoker device, created by the owner of the restaurant, that was used to inject smoke into things like butter or buratta; confited chicken for their raviolis, all kinds of good stuff.
The chef also went into detail – some in Spanish, some in English – about the components of my specific meal. How the fish was something he had discovered on a recent trip to Chile, how he smuggled the Crimean tomato seeds from France for the sauce on the fish, and why he was using Thai basil (which he sliced painstakingly one leaf at a time) to give the dish a nice spice note. It was an amazing experience as was the finished dish.
Along side, I had my first Argentine Chardonnay, which was surprisingly good and a nice complement to my meal. I chatted with the chef some more as well as Angel and just tried to soak in as much as I could. It was a truly memorable experience and one I’ll never forget.