The quaint Black Ant–located in a classic East Village walkup at 60 Second Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets–is always crowded with people who want authentic Mexican fare, the majority of it made with grasshoppers and ants. Being a little chicken, I stuck to their non-insect dishes which were generous in size and totally wowed my taste buds–but not without having one of their margaritas which every year wind up on various media outlets’ lists of “New York’s Best Margaritas.” I had the mango “marg” and I have to say it was a deal at $8 for 12 ounces. I think that had regular salt on mine but guests have the option of black ant salt. I just know that I said that I wanted it salted, so maybe I did really have black ant salt. It did not taste any different than the standard salt used on margaritas. This was truly one of the most natural tasting margaritas I have ever had and did not have that overly sweet taste that “margs” at more commercial establishments make. Next time I go to The Black Ant, I want to try the lime or strawberry margaritas.My dining mate Gail decided to try the blue nachos with ant and pomegranate seed covered guacamole as she is a bit braver than me when it comes to gourmet food experimentation. I munched on the chips alone and I have to say they were thick and crunchy, having a lot more body than your average restaurant tortilla chip–that is probably because they are in house. Gail said that the guac was about the freshest she has ever had and said that you really do not taste the ants and that they have a slightly crunchy texture–the official list of ingredients ingredients is avocado, red onion, tomato, cilantro, salsa matcha, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, black ants and salt.I then ordered what is probably the healthiest item on the Black Ant menu and what is certainly ideal for vegetarians–a steamed bok choy salad with a pistachio mole “dressing” listed on the menu as Ensalada De Quelites. The official list of ingredients is bok choy, seasonal vegetables including pearl onions and carrots, pistachio mole and Chile Vinigarette. The pistachio mole actually takes a lot like Thai peanut dressing but a little less sweet. I would highly recommend this to anyone that is health conscious–it is ultra “pure” and takes a while to eat. There is every vitamin you will ever needs and tons of fiber. It is super filling! I had to take some of it home!Gail ordered the Betabel as her appetizer which is miso Adobe beets, pearl onions, morita salsa, a corn beet tortilla and pomegranate seeds. The sauce was creamy and the mixture of textures between the lightly steamed beets, crunchy pomegranate seeds and pearl onions was just lovely. The sauce was mild in flavor as was the tortilla.
We also shared a lovely side of plaintains which were grilled but left firm and topped with pomegranate seeds; a small bed of homemade Nogada sauce was underneath them. They were lovely and certainly done in a more healthy fashion than at most Mexican restos. They were just soft enough and served hot and steamy. The portion was certainly enough for two people as a side.
We then shared the lovely Polo Rostizado which is the white half of a Cornish hen, sitting in peanut mole and surrounded by Confit potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cipollini onions. To say that the Cornish hen was juicy and delicious was an understatement. I will be back for this time and time again. I even picked up the bones to finish it and did not care what other diners thought. For dessert Gail and I had to share the Hibiscus Churros which are serves with strawberry sauce, fresh chunks of strawberry and hibiscus sugar. These definitely did not look like the traditional long churros but rather were shaped more like a French crueler. They had a bit of matcha tea in the batter and were warm, soft and not overly sweet. These are truly a special dessert that you cannot find elsewhere.As you can see above we also shared a sampler plate of desserts which is pictured above. It included the Chapulin ice cream which tasted a bit like egg nog to me and Mousse De Chocolat which was much darker and firmer than traditional chocolate mousse. The Zanahoria–which is cinnamon biscuits, cream cheese, braised carrots and condensed milk–was truly unique and moist. There was another churro on there which was tempting but Gail took it home as a future late night snack.I can’t wait to go back to The Black Ant; I would especially love to go and get to sit at the super cool bar with the ant motif that matches the wallpaper and try a few new drinks before sitting down to dine. I am not sure that I will ever be brave enough to try any of their unique insect dishes which customers are lined out the door for but maybe it will happy if I knock back about three of their remarkable margaritas first. For more info, go to www.theblackantnyc.com. Prices are in the mid-range and portions are generous.