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Friday, April 27, 2012

First Look: Masa 14's New Rooftop

I covered a lot of the touchstones in my piece on Borderstan, but here's a more in-depth look at the newest addition to the 14th St rooftop family.

The Vibe

I'll let the pictures speak mostly for themselves (or at least my previous write-up on Borderstan), but the key is this: it makes much better use of its westward orientation than Marvin or El Centro, and there's something very charming about its elegant simplicity. Check it out below:

The Food

First up, the drinks. Official Girlfriend/Co-Writer of DCWD Texas joined me on this one, and we sampled three cocktails apiece. The undercard in Round 1 featured two sangrias, a Pimm's (sparkling wine, cucumber, ginger, lemon, and of course Pimm's), and a Rosa (bourbon, mixed citrus, brown sugar, cinnamon, and of course red wine). For me, the sangria was about the same as most sangrias, which is to say it was fine.

Round two was Texas's favorite drink, while mine was still building up. She ordered the Strawberry Basil caipirinha (cachaca 51, strawberry, lime, basil), while I had a Mojito Especial (Patron Pyrat rum, brown sugar, mint, lime). If only the brown sugar in mine were mixed a tad better, the drink would have been great; as it stands, the best sips were the last ones where the sugar sat.

However, my third drink (the French caipirinha, cachaca 51, St. Germain, grapefruit juice) was my winner. For her part, Texas had a spicy cucumber margarita (cucumber-fresno infused blanco, lime, agave). For me, the French was refreshing and light, and a perfect cooldown for any evening engagement. Maybe not a Friday night ramp up, but with the sun setting in the background, nice.

Onto the food. For us, there were some notable high points. For me, the most interesting bites were the hot dogs; The Rising Sun (teriyaki beef, wasabi, furikake, pickle), and El Tigre (spicy chorizo, pico, sriracha crema, potato sticks). Both provided a good amount of heat, with the former tasting almost like a hot dog version of sushi, while the second was much more Cuban in profile.

Another success was the bay scallop ceviche, mixed with jicama, pineapple, red onion, yuzu-sriracha vinaigrette. The whole affair hit with good citrus on the first bite, which provided a refreshing jolt that was followed up with the sweet fruit. About the only thing that might have improved it was more consistent lime throughout the bite, but admittedly that's nit picking.

Most everything else we sampled was actually fairly good as well: a spicy tuna handroll was wonderfully fresh, but only suffered from its cone presentation, which left a chunk of rice wrapped in seaweed for bite two; a spoonful of sushi salmon and potato crisps drizzled in wasabi was light and fun; and a flatbread of oaxacan cheese, shrimp, pineapple, ceviche, and chilis lived up to its spicy moniker, while retaining some sweet and fresh qualities.

Perhaps my biggest concern was the menu's spelling of banh mi (IT'S NOT SPELLED BAHN MI). But then again, that's just my pet peeve.

The Verdict

A solid sampling of the food downstairs, and an amazing rooftop. Get there early.

Food Rating: *** 1/2
(out of 5)

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