Ardiente: Perfection Repeated

If you haven’t heard about Ardiente or haven’t been there yet, I have one word for you, go! We were lucky enough to take part of their grand opening party a few weeks ago and had a fantastic time. Please check out my earlier article about them. The decor is stunning. The food and drinks are amazing. It’s a perfect blend of Asian-Latin cuisine and it is simply delicious. We’ve been meaning to go back since the opening and last Friday we headed down to Old City and back to this amazing restaurant. Would it be as good as we remembered? Absolutely!

Ardiente has quickly become one of our favorite restaurants. Let me start with the staff. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more energetic, dedicated and friendlier staff in the city. You truly get the sense that they really love working here and will go out of their way to make sure you have a wonderful experience.

On this night, I started out with their wonderful Szechuan sangria. It’s probably the best sangria I’ve ever had. It’s made with a blended red wine, Grand Marnier brandy, Chinese five spice-Szechwan peppercorn syrup, fresh apples, oranges and Asian pears. It is incredible. Eric ordered the Old City Sour. It’s made vida mezcal, house sour mix, agave nectar, angostura bitters, egg white and tempranillo float. Oh my God! This drink was out of this world. We love mezcal and this just knocked it out of the park. Eric said it was the best mezcal drink he’s had in the city. I whole heartly agreed!

We only put in an order for a couple of food items but Chef Nihad Hajdarhodzic wanted us to sample a few more. He is a wizard when it comes to food. We were lucky enough to talk with him when we first arrived. He is from Bosnia and has an amazing knack for mixing flavors. He was truly pleased that we loved the dished he prepared. The first dish that came out was a pickled jicama and fresh kimchi appetizer. It was the perfect way to start our culinary journey. It was delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and had a great balance of acidity. Next up was the fried shishito peppers that were so good! They were perfectly fried and had a beautiful smoke rub. We also were treated to their amazing fire roasted spicy edamame. Folks, it really doesn’t get any better than this. We’ve had really good edamame but these are just on another level.

Next up was one of our favorites, their traditional ceviche, which is the fish of the day, leche de tigre and tostones. You simply have to try this yourselves to see how incredible this dish is. You taste the freshness of the fish and paired with the saltiness of the tostones, it is a match made in heaven. We then tried their glazed filet mignon, served with tamarind teriyaki and plantain mofongo. Where to begin. First, you won’t find a better filet mignon in the city. Period. It is cooked a perfect medium rare and just melts in your mouth. You don’t even need a special knife to cut the filet, it is that tender. The mofongo, which is a classic Puerto Rican dish was absolutely delicious. Paired together, it was fantastic.

Our last dish was a chorizo fried rice topped with a perfectly poached egg and fresh herbs. How does the chef do it? It was delicious. The presentation was beautiful, the smooth texture of the egg and the saltiness of the chorizo was a perfect marriage. It was just a stunning dish.

Now, more about the drinks. Eric ordered the Hotel Nacional, which is made with Don Q anejo rum. He loves Don Q rum and has always told me, if you are from Puerto Rico, which he is, you drink Don Q! I ordered the Pisco Sour. Folks, the Pisco Sour was hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. It was so good that Eric finished his Hotel Nacional and quickly ordered it as well. It’s made with control c pisco, house sour mix, egg white, orange bitters, angostura and blue curaco garnish. Words really can’t describe how amazing this drink is. If you go to Ardiente, and you better, this has to be on your “must try” list. Trust me, you will love this drink! Just as the chef is a wizard with food, the bartenders are equally amazing when it comes to cocktails.

I just can’t stop raving about Ardiente. It’s located in the charming Old City area, the decor is stunning, the food and drinks are amazing. In one word, this restaurant is perfect!

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