Salinas is a casually elegant Chelsea restaurant where Chef Luis Bollo, a native of San Sebastian, presents a sophisticated and authentic Spanish dinner menu. The main dining room, with 90 seats surrounded by white stone walls and large vases of fresh roses, extends out to a garden where a leaf may occasionally flutter in over the 35 diners—but should raindrops pose a threat, a glass roof slides overhead like an umbrella.
Tapas selections are quite wonderful such as a Moorish-style short rib (Castilla Moresca) braised with Rioja and balsamico wines. The Bikini de Cochino is a sexy little ham-and-cheese sandwich on multigrain bread, with pulled suckling pig, Serrano ham, tetilla cheese, mushrooms, red onions and pickled fennel. (Chef Bollo loves pickles and you will find them in many dishes.) One of the hot items of summer is the chilled gazpacho, and Bollo presents a “structured” dish: a little mound of diced vegetables in the soup bowl, which are then covered with the fragrant soup at table. If you have yet to try Spanish pasta—fideo—do so here. It is a kind of crispy vermicelli, and the Negros y Crujientes comes with shaved sepia (a relative of calamari), watercress and beet powder. The sofrito, a tangy sauce, is mixed into the fideo by your server. Always on the menu is Porcella, slow-roasted suckling pig served with watercress, frisée, grilled peaches and wine reduction.
Blanco Y Negro is a fabulous dessert of white and dark chocolate custard served with a Manchego emulsion. The New York Times gave Salinas two stars but I would give them a few more. Dinner 6pm to 10pm weekdays, later on Saturday; 5pm to 10pm on Sunday. Bartender brunch Sunday 3 to 5pm. -- Marian Betancourt