click to enlarge bartlettimage-9381_web.jpg

photo by Rob Bartlett

Sexy Spanish steakhouse Capa soars to the top of our list of must-eat restaurants 

I'm not going to deliver a diatribe on levels of service at restaurants in this city, but just know that the "good help is hard to find" dictum is as common an utterance among chefs and owners as the general dining public. So it's always nice to go to a place where they understand and value the importance of good service; where waiters aren't just knowledgable, but intelligent enough to know that the customer comes first. That place is Capa. And, yes, it's at the Four Seasons. I know what you're thinking: "Sure, I'll get good service, but I'll pay an arm and a leg for it." I can only remind you that you get what you pay for. When it's all said and done, what lingers isn't the significant crimp in your wallet, but a remembrance of your repast.

Last year, this Basque-inspired steakhouse finished at the top of our annual list of places where you can eat and drink equally well. So, trust me, you'll want to arrive a little early to enjoy a stiff gin-tonic or two on the resort's rooftop terrace prior to dining. Once led to your table (look up and behold Peter Gentenaar's striking work of paper art), the idea is to sit back and let the gentlemen and lady servers do their thing.

An open kitchen allows guests to get a peek of chef Tim Dacey and his staff at work, though, in all likelihood, your eyes will fix on the jamón de bellota, a pure Iberico acorn-fed ham, perched on the ledge tempting any and all who catch sight of it. A plate of the luscious meat will run you $39, but it's just so very hard to say no – even more so when you witness all the deep-pocketed, expense-accounted buggers having their way with it.

Capa's menu is a focused hybrid of modern takes on Basque and Spanish staples and USDA Prime cuts of beef. That said, Asian-inspired hamachi crudo ($12), nestled against slivers of clementine and flecked with grated horseradish, will start your meal off in superlative fashion, but you could say that about most any starter here. The lone exception might be the lightly fried cauliflower ($11) with capers and a poached egg. I say that only because it seems more like an appetizer you'd find at a falafel joint (like Hubbly Bubbly).

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • photo by Rob Bartlett

Just one look, and I fell hard for the remolacha, a plate of beautiful cuts of red and yellow beets ($12) graced with whey foam. Instead of the usual complement of goat cheese, Dacey's is served over buttermilk cream. Other raciones worth considering: peppery rounds of grilled octopus ($14) and celery root over a pistachio-romesco puree topped with shaved pork loin (we couldn't get enough of that puree), and heavenly foie gras ($17) served with membrillo (quince cheese) and a Marcona almond drizzle. From the list of mains, a new entry – succulent roasted duck ($36) with braised salsify, Florida peaches and pickled mustard seed – was one of the finest preparations of fowl we've sampled. Seriously. And my preference for the bone-in filet ($69) over the 40-day dry-aged, bone-in ribeye ($66) is akin to preferring a Maserati GranTurismo over a Maserati Quattroporte.

If you skipped out on the plate of jamón Iberico de bellota, consider ending with a bowl of watermelon gazpacho and lemon sorbet ($11). The unique dessert is sided with mini melon cylinders topped with diced jamón – Serrano, not Iberico. Like the gazpacho, you'll immediately Instagram the guindilla ($12), a chocolate cream and Reus hazelnut "cake" ($12) served with spicy chocolate ice cream.

Service couldn't have been better, either. As we perused the wine list, we half-expected the somm to be summoned, but our server was more than capable of handling those duties. Sure, dining among tourists and conventioneers can be an annoyance, albeit an expected one, but if it gets to you, just do as the Spanish do and order another gin-tonic.

Correction: In print and in an earlier version of this review on our website, we ran photographs of the wrong restaurant. We deeply regret the error.

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