Archive | May, 2009

Small Plates from Txikito

3 May

On the theme of restaurants opening in my neighborhood, just two doors down from Co (see last entry), is a new restaurant called Txikito (pronounced Chic-Kee-Toe) serving small, tapas style plates, from the Basque region of Spain.

We started with a glass of wine from the region (for me) and a glass of hard cider (for Mike).  Both were effervescent, different, and delicious.

The restaurant itself had an interesting look, with boarded walls and ceiling.  The aesthetic with very nice with the exception of what we thought to be a very out-of-place, bright blue wall in the back.  For such a rustic looking setting, it just begged the question of “why?”

We labored over ordering (and avoiding the peppers allergy) and eventually decided on the following (apologies for the picture quality as my camera battery charger is still MIA so I used my iPhone):

–          TUTERA: gratin of artichoke, Roncal, jamón

–          LEKAK: tender green beans, golden garlic, olive oil

–          BAKAILOA: house cured salt cod w/ crispy headcheese

–          TXIPIRON “ENCEBOLLADO”: squid ribbons a la plantxa
w/ sweet onion and pine nuts

–          CONCHINILLO: Suckling pig with a chimichurri sauce (that they put on the side so I could avoid the peppers)

Everything was fantastic.  The squid ribbons were the stand-out (with a pasta-like consistency), until the suckling pig came out.  I could not identify exactly what piece of the pig we were eating, but the crispy skin was unbelievable and the pork was as tender and flavorful as any I’d ever had.  It was a sizable portion too, compared to the other dishes (which were about 2-3 bites a piece).

Overall, the price wasn’t too bad for tapas (about $125 for all the dishes and 2 glasses of wine/cider each).  I am a person who really enjoys sampling many things when I go out, but I always feel a little unsatisfied by tapas as I really like to have a big, hearty meal.  If I am prepared to walk away a little hungry, but happy with my culinary adventure, I enjoy tapas a lot more.  I tried to prepare Mike for this, however, I got the distinct feeling that even though he enjoyed it, he wanted more.  So we got some Port from the Chelsea Market wine store and then stopped at Billy’s Bakery for some cupcakes and other sugary delights.  The feast in my apartment that evening was pretty epic, but all-in-all, I’m VERY happy we tried Txikito.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Death by Co

3 May

I live in a neighborhood that is very convenient to other neighborhoods and the subway system, however, good restaurants within a 6 block radius are few and far between. So imagine my excitement when the mastermind behind Sullivan Street Bakery (Jim Lahey), decided to open up a high-end pizza place right down the street. When I walked by Co. (called “Company” by name and a very silly choice for a restaurant that you have to look for online, though their search engine optimization seems well done) in its opening week, I saw a pizza listd on the window menu that just looked sensational, with many of my favorite ingredients (including chestnuts and crispy pork, if I recall correctly).

I was very sad to see this pizza not on the menu when Mike and I decided to try it out a few weeks later. After about a 45 minute wait (they do not take reservations), we were seated at a round table with another couple. The restaurant has communal seating, but we were happy to find our table-mates were friendly without feeling the need to engage in conversations throughout the meal (cruise style).

First, Mike and I decided to splurge on the Chef’s Selection of meats and cheeses. Now for the $22 price tag, I was hoping for a unique sampling of good cheeses. When the plate came and we saw a sampling of 3 cheeses that were barely 3 bites a piece, we hoped they were very unique, really great cheeses. We were very disappointed. The samplings all tasted very similar to each other and had no real uniqueness at all. They were good, just nothing great. I could have bought them at the grocery store across the street.

Next we decided to order 2 pizzas so we could split them and share. We were a bit disappointed with the selection since they all sounded basically the same (the béchamel, parmesan, buffalo mozzarella base was consistent for almost every one), but we tried the Leek and Sausage (with breadcrumbs) and the Flambe (with caramelized onions and lardons).

Now I checked with the waiter twice and Mike questioned further, to make sure that neither pizza, nor the sausage, had peppers (as I’m very allergic). The waiter assured us that I was safe, so I enjoyed a big bite of sausage when it came out. I’m sure you see where this is going… I had to run to the back kitchen to ask for a glass of milk. I followed that with two more and still had some blistering (YUCK!) Now I guess I could forgive the attempt on my life had the food been outstanding… but it just… wasn’t. In fact, as far as pizza goes, I’ve had better crust and cheese and corner pizza stores in the West Village (for 1/3 the price).

I am a very strong proponent of some things being worth the extra money, and good food is very high on that list. But if I spend the extra money and the food is barely average, it just makes it seem that much worse. To add insult to injury, I barely received an apology from the waiter for the peppers mix-up and nothing on the check was comped (not even a soda). I was pretty surprised by this seeing as though usually restaurants are VERY careful about this and should a mistake happen, they bend over backwards to make sure I leave happy. Co didn’t seem to care. And I didn’t care for Co.

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10 (max)

All suggestions welcome

2 May

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