If People Magazine had a Star Tracks section for bloggers, last week's issue would read: Spotted at Txiktio! The Wednesday Chef, The Blue Hour, and The Hungry Roach enjoy an evening out in Chelsea doing what they do best - discussing and eating their fair share of excellent food. Not that I really consider myself to be on the same level as the other two in the celebrity blogging world, but I was definitely in great company last week and still riding high from the success of the joint collaboration on Five Leaves. And, being the restaurant "specialist" in the crew, I was in charge of picking the spot - a welcome pressure for the amateur.
Minus a pretty significant wait for a Tuesday evening, Txikito ended up being a great location for our casual rendez-vous. Similar to its sister restaurants, Tia Pol and El Quinto Pino, the place is tiny! The cozy atmosphere completely contradicts its bland exterior and location on one of the least charming blocks in the neighborhood. A foot in the door and a glass of wine later, ninth avenue is quickly forgotten. The crowded room and kind hostess will actually make you even more eager to forge the wait and be a part of the overly content diners surrounding you.
Instead of serving all variations on Spanish tapas, Txikito sets itself apart by focusing on the Basque region - a more adventuresome area in Spain's culinary world. The menu is divided into canapes, cold plates, and hot plates in addition to a selection of daily specials. Most plates are small and are meant for sharing, however, there are a few that are substantially larger. No need to feel shy about asking - they will definitely steer you in the right direction. I recommend 2-2.5 dishes per person. From the canapes, we shared the tutera - gratin of artichoke, roncal, and jamon as well as the atuna - little sandwich of basque tuna with piquillo oil and sweet onion. I will be honest, I have no idea what "roncal" is (google has not been much of a help either), but whatever it is, it must be delicious. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.
While most cold plates were actually salads, we ordered the octopus carpaccio with lemon oil, mayonnaise, and espelette peppers. This was extremely delicate, but full of flavor. I would definitely order this again. From the hot plates section, we shared the mussels and white beans in a white wine, garlic, and parsley broth as well as spicy cross-cut pork spare ribs. Thinking ahead, they serve all plates with thin slices of bread. The sauces with both of these dishes were more than worthy of sopping up several morsels by the end of the evening. My very favorite dish of the night was one of the specials - chickpeas stewed with salt cod and green market swiss chard. This was delicious. And, on top of soaking the bread in this broth, I was ready to pick up the bowl and just drink it. Our final dish, which was also a special of the night, was braised bacon with imported cuttlefish served with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Pork lovers should not pass this up this dish if seen on the blackboard again!
I am fairly certain we would have been spotted by the end of the evening had we not been seated in the back corner of the restaurant. While there were no paparazzi flashes, I definitely managed to make up for it - taking out the trusty, old Canon Powershot before we devoured each dish. Gone are the day(s) of the Blue Hour's photographs on the Hungry Roach. But, I do sense some sort of triple collaboration in the works. I'm just not totally sure how, when, or where. I can only guarantee you will be reading about it - Txikito, while delicious, was just a tease.
240 Ninth Avenue (25th St.)
New York, NY 100o1
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):