Txikito – NYC

Of the three Spanish/Portugese restaurants that have gained so much buzz recently, I was most excited about Txikito. If only for a chance to relive memories of hopping around tapas bars in San Sebastian, Spain. I wondered if I would see a burnished oak counter displaying open-faced sandwiches topped with bits of food held together by mayonnaise or if they would be marking up my bill by counting the toothpicks on my plate or if used napkins would be strewn all over the floor.

No. None of that. Instead, I see a rectangular space slightly bigger than a one-car garage with rough-hewn unvarnished wooden planks covering the walls and ceilings. There is a bar, but it’s sleek and modern, laden with (wine) glasses rather than goodies.

To kick off our meal, we each have a glass of txakolin (Ametzoi Getariako Txakolina 2008 and Uriondo Bizkaiako Txakolina 2008), a dry sparkling wine produced in the Basque region. Shortly after, the progression of plates come quickly.

IMG_2253


PIPERRAK: thin-skinned green peppers blistered just until they wrinkle then sprinkled with sea salt. This reminds me of the Pimiento de Padron I had sampled in a seafood restaurant in Barcelona. Each pepper is not spicy per se, so you keep eating, but the heat builds up as you consume more of them. I’m gasping for water by the end.

IMG_2256

TXITXIKI: toased baguettes filled with homemade chorizo hash.

IMG_2247

Ravioli Bacon, an off the menu special. 4 slices of bacon wrapped around sweet corn puree like a tamale, drizzled with olive oil and lemon thyme.

IMG_2263

TXIPIRON “ENCEBOLLADO”. Squid ribbons on top of a sweet onion and pine-nut puree. Squid or cuttlefish sliced like fettucine is a staple of Basque cuisine. The first time I encountered it was at Restaurant Urola, in the Ciudad Vella (“Old City”) of San Sebastian. It was 11pm. We had just arrived after a six-hour drive from Barcelona and, immediately prior to that, an eight-hour flight from New York with a stopover at Charles des Gaulle airport where, of course, our luggage had decided to take a few days off on their own. Tired, hungry and cranky would be putting it mildly. Well, so much for the myth that everyone eats late in Spain. Urola was one of the few restaurants still open and serving dinner. For that, we will be forever grateful. Anyway, back to the cuttlefish. It was barely cooked in its own ink, still somewhat glassy and very delicate in flavor. It’s become my gold standard for this dish, and to this day I don’t recall a better version.

IMG_2258

LENGUA: I was a little disappointed with this. Four pieces of thinly sliced and breaded tongue with some cornichons just seemed a tad overpriced at $15.

IMG_2261

TXANGURRO: crabmeat gratin. Too much cream, too little crab. And shouldn’t it be baked in a crab shell for better presentation?

IMG_2266

For dessert, we had Cuajada, a rather funky loose custard made from goat’s milk curds and drizzled with extra-viscous and overpowering honey. The silky texture reminded me of taho, a popular street food in the Philippines that’s made from soy milk and flavored with a dark sweet syrup.

All in all, decent food, but considering all the rave reviews, not to mention the restaurant’s pedigree (it’s owned by the same folks who gave us Tia Pol), I was expecting a little more from Txikito.

Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to The Jaded Fork by email
Copyright © 2009 Jaded Fork

Advertisements

~ by Jaded Fork on July 24, 2009.

7 Responses to “Txikito – NYC”

  1. Sorry to hear that this restaurant didn’t totally match your expectations. I do like the idea of ravioli bacon – I actually made a corn puree yesterday and it would have been nice to wrap it inside the bacon!

  2. hi manang joyu! i ate here last wk as well & was also disappointed with the lengua. was intrigued at first coz the menu described it as “crispy” but it was just breaded like a schnitzle. meh. AND i don’t think they have nearly enough jamon offerings! i think my faves were the chorizo, the blood sausage lumpia, & the paper-thin pulpo. i would go back for those.

    -erin

    • Hi Erin! Good to know we’re not alone with the lengua. I don’t recall the blood sausage lumpia but did enviously eye the pulpo at our neighbor’s table. Unfortunately, Jake vetoed it, haha. You should come join us for dinner next time. We have one more place to try — La Fonda del Sol.

  3. the blood sausage lumpia was called morcilla-something i believe. not too potent like standard morcilla, but just right. yes dinner sometime! 🙂

  4. Piperrak sounds like a great appetizer. We sometimes make a similar one for breakfast. But with sweet peppers.

    • I’ve actually found a farmer’s market near where I live which sells pimiento de padron. It’s like russian roulette though. there’s no way to tell from their looks which ones are hot!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: