After brunch at Olsen, we walked over to Palermo Soho to walk around and do some shopping. We quickly became hungry and stopped off at Mott, a fairly reputable café restaurant for something to eat.Most of Palermo Soho's cafes are cozy with big couches and dim lighting. Mott, on the other hand, is clean and modern with tall ceilings, concrete floors, and lots of natural light. However, while this converted factory is certainly modern, it's also very comfortable: the tables are natural wood, the chairs and bar stools are made of wicker, there's a fireplace in the back, and there are still two black leather couches by the door. Mott seems to be a very good mix of modern and comfortable. And due to its central location, a great place to stop by for an afternoon snack or cup of coffee while shopping; but for full meals, I think there are better options. We arrived at an off-hour, around 6pm -- a little late for an afternoon snack and way too early for dinner. Since we were having a pretty intense conversation, we decided to camp out at Mott and do dinner in reverse. We were told dinner service begins at 8pm; but, coffee and desserts were available now. So we decided to start with dessert and work our way to dinner once service began. I started off with a slice of the torta del día (cake of the day) which was a chocolate cake with a layer of dulce de leche in the center. The cake was extremely dry, likely made the day before. It was also very cold. My guess is it was refrigerated which would explain the dryness. I munched on this and my coffee for 2 hours until dinner service began.

As an appetizer, I ordered the ensalada de los mariscos (seafood salad) which was disappointing. I was excited to have mussels since this was to be my first time in over a month (shellfish is not very popular here). Unfortunately, any taste of seafood was overpowered by the giant cubes of raw red onion. The only way this was somewhat enjoyable was to pick out the mussels one at a time and drain off the onion juice. The mussels were also not fresh. This dish was a no go.

Next up was salmon tartar: raw salmon served over couscous. The presentation was very tight -- each cube of salmon managed not to extend over its cylindrical couscous base. The salmon was light and fresh, but the couscous was a little dry for this combination. There was a mayonnaise-based sauce on top of the salmon which I scooped off -- I'm rarely a fan of mayonnaise. This was a much better than the seafood salad; but ultimately, nothing special.

The funniest part of the meal, though not so funny for Mott, came after we'd finished our mains. The waitress, unaware that we'd already eaten dessert, offered us a pre-dessert aperitif from the bar. We were pretty excited about this. Until we tasted it. Still unsure of what exactly it was, there was a distinct taste of both rubber and soap. The aftertaste of this was so strong, that it began to upset my stomach. The other 3 people I was with had similar reactions. We glanced over at the bar to see if there were any chuckles ... either the bartender was really good at acting, or this was for real.

The Mystery Aperitif

We called over the waitress to see what was going on; but she couldn't seem to understand why we didn't like this drink. Anyhow, one thing led to another, and a bet developed into who would finish two glasses of this "aperitif." The stakes kept rising and rising, no one wanted to do it! At one point, finishing two glasses was worth 20 U$D -- we were all willing to pay to watch one or two of us consume a free drink that was supposed to be delicious. Finally, two of my friends (absolutely not I) accepted the challange and drank two glasses each. Both were sick after. While this doesn't speak well for the restaurant, it was a lot of fun!

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