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If it weren’t for the Sweet Potato Tour for Sweet Potato Month this February, we wouldn’t have found the hidden gem that is Desnuda in the LES, and we do mean hidden.

Unless you know the restaurant is there, chances are you’ll pass right by it. The space is just big enough for the bar, a window seat, and a chandelier, and your starter of truffle popcorn at the bar. I was also informed that Desnuda actually means “naked” in Spanish, which made sense for this Winebar and Cevicheria’s stripped down menu items that also packed a lot of flavor.

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We began our ceviche flight with the Ceviche de Salmon, which changes seasonally, based on what we saw on the website versus what we actually saw in person. What doesn’t change is the freshness of the dish. The fish was served with shaved almonds, thai chili oil, orange slices, and sweet potato brûlée on top of a tamarind sauce. The sweet potatoes were brûléed with a tiny torch, which was fun to watch.

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In fact, all of the dishes were plated in front of you, since there really isn’t anywhere else to go. We followed our first dish up with one of the daily specials, Seared Tuna and Foie Gras over a Jalapeño Marmalade and Balsamic Drizzle. This dish was definitely special and the flavors melded perfectly with one another. I’m glad I asked the chef/bartender (the two people behind the bar fit both roles) if the dish was spicy, which is was not, otherwise I would’ve passed up this decadent combination.

We also tried the side of Sweet Potato with panca aioli. The dish didn’t look like much, basically sweet potato medallions with a sauce on top, but the flavors came through, especially with the surprise of lime zest acidity.

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We finished our culinary adventure with Tiradito De Vieras, sea scallops in a soy citrus glaze, avocado balls, orange supremes, basil and sesame seeds. The preparation of the scallops, served in half moon slices, is different from traditional dishes where they’re served whole, and the flavor profile is also different from other scallop dishes that are usually served, but the theme of freshness stayed in tact.

This place is a great spot for a date, catching up with friends over small bites and wine, and of course to try out some different dishes that incorporate sweet potato.

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Check out the first stop from the Sweet Potato Tour at Melba’s, and stay tuned for last stop later this week, when we visit West Village’s seasonally influenced, Market Table.

 – Stephanie Carino

122 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10009