a.bar opened for business, and we stopped in on Sunday afternoon to check it out. In addition to a dozen oysters (they’re just $1.50 each from 3-6 PM daily), chef Val Stryjewski brought out these squid ink crackers, which he tells us were the most popular item during the bar’s first night of service. After munching through the whole order in under five minutes, we can see why.
To make the crisps, Stryjewski cooks rice deeply - “Way past congee,” he says - and then purees it with rice flour, squid ink and whole calamari. The batter is laid on pans and slow-cooked to a dry, pliable sheet, which is then torn apart and deep fried. Sprinkled with togarashi (Japanese spice mix), the resulting inky black crackers end up ultra light, super flavorful and easy to eat, especially accompanied by a glass of beer or wine.
They also paired well with the cocktail we had, called the Mid-Summer Revival. A twist on a Corpse Reviver, the drink is a mix of gin, Lillet, house watermelon syrup, lime juice and Peychaud’s bitters, shaken and poured into a glass that’s already gotten a quick spritz of absinthe. Summer snacking at its finest ($6; 215-825-7030).