Bar Pintxo was named my Favorite Food Find of 2010 – with Cafe Paradiso, Juno’s Cafe and C’est Si Bon all coming in a close tie right behind it. I wrote my initial review for The Place: Los Angeles (August, link here) and believe it or not, last Thursday was my first return since I ate there nearly a year ago.
After a leisure day in Santa Monica, Mister J and I popped in to take advantage of their happy hour deals. A special happy hour menu was created and we mostly ordered off of that.
Order: 6 Pintxos for $6
– Fresh Tomato, garlic on grilled bread
– Chorizo bilbao, cherry tomato
– Serrano Jamon, grilled bread, oil
– Huevos Rellenos con Vinagreta Vasca
– Crimini Mushroom, mushroom mousse, manchego
– Tomato conserve & Manchego
6 for $6.00
Mister J bravely downed a halved cherry tomato – good for him! (he hates tomatoes). The chorizo scared him a bit, but the egg was decent with a little spice and he enjoyed the Jamon on grilled bread immensely. Although, what non-vegetarian man doesn’t instinctively light up at the sight of meat and bread?
The conserve and manchego was the star of my share. The compote was too acidic and made the bread too soppy for consumption. The mushroom is promising, but a bit of fungi overload. Mushrooms in my mushrooms?! I think the mousse and bread alone would suffice, and stuff the big mushrooms with something else (the compote maybe, ditch the bread?)
Stupidly, I opened the regular menu, thus opening my imagination, my appetite, and my wallet for some delicious damage. Happily, I wielded some self-control and only ordered the Jamon wrapped valdeon stuffed dates.
Heaven is sweet and savory
Sticking with the happy hour menu, Mister J ordered Hamburgesas Bar Pintxo (2 mini burgers, tronchon cheese, carmelized onion, guindilla pepper and Jamon crisp) and Tacos Castellanos – asking for two lamb, instead of one (the other is pulled pork with BBQ sauce). This is what we were given:
Lamb with Ximinez BBQ sauce
A hideous, foul tasting mistake that I munched on with a sour expression until Mister J spoke to the server, who realized the mistake instantly and offered a correction. Mister J took her up on the offer, and why I didn’t I’ll never know but I regret it because this was the corrected tapas:
Lamb crepe with mint verde sauce
Lamb and mint, a match made by some cosmic force. Very fresh, rich and filling!
Happy Hour Hamburgesas
These would have been absolutely stellar had they been cooked medium rare. I should have specified, but I didn’t and it was (albeit surprisingly) cooked well done. Being cooked well done, the bun toasted and the Jamon crisp just gave the burger a bit of a dryness that wasn’t terribly pleasant. The cheese, onion, pepper and everything else was a total knock out of the park, though. Let’s just get a little bit more pink in that burger, men!
I chatted with chef David H. Plonowski, who it should be noted was in and out of the kitchen and did not cook us our burgers or our Tacos Castellanos. The very textbook definition of perfectionist, David is like a rock star in the kitchen and if it ain’t “fucking perfect” it don’t fly by him. He is a chef after my own heart (and stomach) and I expect to hear him listed amongst the culinary greats in the future. Noticing we were on our way out, he offered a dessert for us to split. Who are we to resist dessert made by a man Mister J and I both hold in such high esteem?
Arroz con leche
Custard creamy rice pudding with a candied top not unlike crème brûlée, topped with fresh diced strawberries. After all of the food in this sitting, not to mention what we ate earlier in the day (to be revealed in June) I’m surprised Mister J didn’t have to roll me back to the car ala Violet Beauregard.
All in all, it was another successful experiment of the taste buds and I hope to be back at Bar Pintxo before another year flies by!
109 Santa Monica Blvd