Sunday, May 29, 2016

NYC's TXIKITO in Chelsea is the best Basque around (5-28-16)

We needed a place to eat an early and not too heavy dinner near the Theater District for our second night in NYC. After some research, I found TXIKITO (the Basque name for the Spanish "chicito" or little) at 9th Avenue at 25th Street (240 9th which is simple, basic and friendly but offers up some of the most novel tapas and dishes in NYC.
The 15 minute walk from our Times Square matinee where we saw Aladdin (loads of fun) was a bit taxing in the 90 degree heat, but worth it. On arrival, the restaurant had no opened yet (they open at 530pm), but we were inside the cooler dining room within minutes. The hostess took us to a table in a second room, where we lasted several minutes before moving back to the first room and bar area as the a/c had not yet kicked in! We drank lots of water and ordered up a bottle of 2013 Domaine Ametiza Rose from the Basque region of France made from Irouleguey, Tannat & Cab Franc which was dry and refreshing. I can't ever recall hearing of Irouleguey so this was our first novelty.
The décor is simple with wooden tables in small rooms and simple wooden chairs; it really is a neighborhood spot, and what a treat to find this in my searches.
We chose a number of tapas starters to share and first to arrive (fotos on FB page) was the op winner Esparragos made from Navarran white asparagus marinated in Celery-Black Truffle Vinaigrette with Chopped Egg. We could not get enough of the tasty treat and ended up using the bread to mop up all the excess vinaigrette. Next came a Pintxos, usually a tapas served on bread, sandwich-like and ours was called TUTERA with large toasted bread slices smothered with a Gratin of Artichokes, Roncal Cheese and Jamon. Sam adored these and ended up ordering extras!
Our third starter was as simple yet tasty PULPO which was layered carpaccio of octopus with lemon oil, marjoram and piment d'espelette. It was superb and seasoned just right with delicious fresh green herbs as were most of the dishes (were those the first baby corn shoots of the season on the asparagus?).
Samuel chose the Albondigas (his often go to tapas) but here the huge meatballs were made with lamb and served in a simple minted broth; a big hit.
Will chose the special Suckling Pig with crunchy skin and Chimichurri sauce that was tasty, but did not come close to the amazing quality of my Grilled Brook Trout with Crispy Serrano, Crispy Garlic and Garnacha Vinaigrette.which our server Carlos (who hailed from Guadalajara) said was his favorite special on the menu and whenever it appeared sold out fast; no surprise there. The fish was fileted to perfection with the head and tail and skin still on and smothered with huge layers of crispy crunchy Serrano ham and small pieces of crunchy garlic slices and the sauce which was light, still was rich with butter and lemon and wine that simply made my mouth super happy. It was a sight to behold on the plate and a magnificent revelation in the mouth.
We chose three desserts and Samuel got the winner with Pastel, a lemon scented butter cake with crème fraiche which disappeared fast save for the two bites he shared with us. Cuajada is a goat milk yogurt with honey and walnuts that won no prizes and reminded me of a nice breakfast yogurt. The cheese tray was very nice with Quince Paste and Raisin walnut toast but had three cheeses very similar in texture and could have used a bit more variety. Ossau Irraty, Roncal and Idiazabal are all tasty cheeses from the region that are hard with different flavors and a Blue de Basques was a creamy rich blue we adored,
We loved our little new discovery and found out they have another just tapas spot across the street called El Quinto Pino and two more different places in Brooklyn, one a café, and the other, La Vara in Cobble Hill Park. Check them all out.