July 28, 2003 | Ask Gael
Authentic? I don’t care. Good is what counts.

         We follow chef Sue Torres following her dream—i.e., Sueños—to this eccentric, hidden warren off Eighth Avenue. Surrender your senses happily to fava-bean-and-drunken-goat-cheese empanadas and the pork tamale with grilled shrimp and ancho beurre blanc. The accent of the chili tasting menu and the face of the woman pressing superior tortillas in one corner of the room signal Mexico, setting the stage for Torres’s skillful fusion. We can’t get enough of her giveaway peppery black-bean dip with triangles of warm homemade corn bread. It’s an early shakedown night, and service drags. With repeated prompting, the space-cadet waiter sends a runner with a single order of guacamole. (We’d asked for two; he charges for four.) Mezcal-cured-salmon terrine with avocado-grapefruit salad is pleasantly nueva cocina, as is grilled salmon with green-chili corn bread and poblano sauce. More south-of-the-border: chili-rubbed goat, steamed with beer in an avocado leaf.

Sueños 311 West 17th Street 212 243 1333

Cafe Fiorello