I've been anticipating Bar Pintxo's opening & missed the first week because the general craziness of this time of year...
I wandered in with my boyfriend late Sunday afternoon & we took our seats at the bar. The place is tiny - the capacity over the door says 30 people - there are about six seats at the bar and then tables with stools in the rest of the room.
We shared a number of dishes and each had 3 glasses of wine. Much of the food seems to be assembled in advance and is on display in the case in front of the bar. When things are busy, this probably works well... plus you can see a dish before ordering. However, the avocado/jicama/radish skewer sitting in front of us had a very tired, brown avocado staring at us that wasn't particularly appetizing.
The portions are generally quite small - often a single slice of grilled baguette bread with a hefty amount of topping. Unless otherwise noted, the dish is one grilled baguette slice with a generous amount of topping. Here's what we had & what I thought:
Jamon Iberico - $18(!!) we started with this because we were chatting with the waitress about various ingredients... I remembered that only recently the FDA allowed this specific ham to be imported into the US. We decided to try it - I agree that it is delicious, however, I was a bit shocked at the price, which included a few slices of baguette and probably 10 1.5 inch square pieces of ham. (That being said, when I looked online and saw that the hams cost $1,400 each, I realized that this probably wasn't a huge rip-off.) However, if someone DOESN'T know about jamon Iberico (or "pata negra") they would be shocked at the price. (Similar to someone who orders white truffles on pasta & has no idea why it cost 4 x the normal pasta plate.)
Tuna salad w/anchovies - $6.00 The cross of white marinated anchovy (in a previous post, I had been searching for fresh anchovies to MAKE my own marinated anchovies) with a salted anchovy over a mound of tuna salad caught my eye. It was good - they used top notch tuna... but I would have preferred a bit more anchovy and less tuna. That's probably just me... I love marinated anchovies!
Chorizo and fried quail egg - $4.00 There's a cute fried quail egg on top of cubed potato and a couple of slices of Spanish chorizo. It's delicious, but a bit messy to eat with your hands. Think about it as breakfast (egg, potato, sausage & toast) all in one...
Gambas al ajillo - $6.00 We had 3 very tasty and highly seasoned shrimp - lots of garlic, parsley and some bite to it (lemon or lime juice). They serve the shrimp shelled but with their heads right there... I've never seen it served that way... there's no messy shell to deal with, but there is a head to look at! I guess that fills up the plate a bit - 3 shrimp all alone would look pretty skimpy...
Paella - $10.00 This is a more "substantial" dish, and the only time utensils were brought out. There were a number of different fish & shellfish in it... and all were cooked correctly (probably in advance & then warmed up). The octopus was soft & not rubbery, the clams were juicy and the various fish were tasty as well. I thought the dish could have had a bit more saffron aroma/flavor, but my boyfriend pronounced it the best paella he'd ever had.
Bacon wrapped date - $4.00 (for one) this is a huge date with a piece of Cabrales cheese inside wrapped with bacon on the outside and held together with a toothpick. It is baked in advance and warmed up on the grill once ordered. I make bacon wrapped dates with a piece of chorizo (dry, Spanish kind) inside & I've had the ones at AOC with another cheese inside... and I thought that the blue cheese added a nice dimension. I may have to try this variant myself at home!
Croquetas with ham & chicken - $5.00 for two golf ball sized croquetas. By this time, we were getting full, but I wanted to try them anyway. Not exactly light... thick bechamel with ham & chicken, breaded then fried. Crispy texture on the outside, but a bit bland on the inside... however, since there is salt (and a pepper grinder - yay!) at the table, the dish improved immensely with the addition of a bit of s&p.
Here are the wines we sampled - all are Spanish, and we enjoyed them all. (We tasted first - there were a few wines that did not make the cut.) The red wines were sitting on the counter... the room was not too warm, so the wines were an acceptable temperature, however, if they had been any warmer I would be unhappy. (One of my pet peeves is red wine that is served too warm in restaurants and bars.)
Joan D’Anguera Montsant Finca L’Argata - $8.00 (our favorite, but they ran out)
Anima Negra An/2 - $11.00
Luberri Seis - Rioja - $7.00
Our total was just under $115 (excluding tip). Not inexpensive, but we didn't hold back on food & wine. That was dinner for us and we were both full by the end. I enjoyed the variety, which is why small plates/tapas appeals to me.. I didn't feel that there was anything I couldn't do myself (for a fraction of the cost), but tapas are casual snacks not haute cuisine... and I believe that in Spain they aren't a "meal" but rather something that tides you over before dinner (which starts at 11PM).
Right now, Bar Pinxo is open noon to midnight seven days a week... I imagine that it will be pretty quiet mid-afternoon & I wonder if those hours will last.
I'll definitely be back because I enjoyed the food & the ambiance... and it is close to where I live.
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