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A Long Overdue Visit to Txikito

November 22, 2011

I must have passed by Txikito, oh I don’t know how many times exactly but much more than I want to admit.  This little tapas bar sits on a strip of 9th Ave that is just bordering the no-man zone I like to call the armpit of Manhattan (ie between Port Authority and Penn Station).  Despite its location, Txikito usually hosts a pretty robust crowd and finally, after a year and half of passing it by, I decided it was finally time to stop in and say “hi”.

The crowd on a Thursday night at Txikito fluctuated between sparse and a healthy wait at the bar.  This didn’t bother me one bit as I sipped on a glass of Txomin Etxaniz, a refreshing lightly effervescent white wine from Spain.

The tapas here vary from the simple staples to some more unusual plates to a typical tapas menu.  We started with a few more traditional small plates, a lovely creamy croquette, flaky Basque tuna with sweet onion on a crisp toasted baguette and white asparagus with chopped egg and truffle oil.  Even though the croquettes were a little predictable (in a good way like that old friend you can always count on), the tuna sandwich was pleasantly unexpected delicious.  The white asparagus was refreshing but was missing something that made it pop.

The next two dishes were clearly more enticing to our palates.  The thinly slice and beautifully plated pulpo nearly melted in my mouth, not at all chewy which octopus sometimes can become.  Did I mention how beautiful this plate was?  The albondigas, lamb meatballs, were a full big lamb flavor that is often toned down delivered in a moist small package.  You could tell that there was hardly any other filling than fatty lamb goodness.

The meal just seemed to keep on getting better and better and all building up to the last savory dish.  Even though this was not a particularly photogenic dish, the txipiron “encebollado” was by far our favorite dish of the night.  A lovely pile of lightly grilled squid ribbons perched on top of a sweet onion puree and savory broth.  Each strand of squid resembled freshly made pasta, just as delicate, and the onion puree made a wonderful sauce for the squid “pasta”.  We definitely cleaned this plate to the last drop, even asking for extra slices of bread.

Instead of dessert, we opted to share a cheese plate instead.  The plate presented four slices from Spain as well as the Basque region of France along with quince and walnut date bread.  The selection of cheese ranged from a sweet mild Spanish cheese to a stronger blue from France.  It was a nice and light way to end the evening while I finished off the last drops of my wine.  As we strolled out of the restaurant which had started to wind down for the night, I was already planning for my next visit to Txikito for a glass of Txomin Etxaniz, a plate of albondigas and txipiron “encebollado”. Anyone care to join me at the bar?

Txikito | 240 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10001 | http://www.txikitonyc.com/

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