Txikito - Highly Not Recommended
240 9th Ave
New York, NY 10001-6602
Phone: (212) 242-4730
After our killer trip to Spain, I figured now would be the perfect time (or in this case not so perfect time) to check out Alex Raij's new Basque style restaurant Txikito. Chef Raij previously was the head chef of Tia Pol - my favorite tapas joint in NYC; where some of the dishes there equaled some of those we had in Spain. Reading the menu here brought back memories of San Sebastian, but unfortunately the flavors did not - still relatively tasty stuff. What killed me was the price points - way too expensive for the amount/quality you get. Overall, I give the restaurant a 60/100.
1) Patatas Mentaiko crisp fries w/spicy cod roe mayo *
2) Atuna little sandwich of basque tuna, piquillo oil, sweet onion *
3) Bocata warm sandwich of unsmoked bacon, melted cheese ***
4) Arraultza sofrito, palacios chorizo, quail egg **
5) Duck Breast with Watercress and Corn Salad
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way
1) Delicious, crispy fries - potato flavor is well pronounced and great hint of olive oil. The spicy cod roe mayo was a nice combo. This was definitely a refined version of the same dish they serve at yakitori taisho albeit three times the price, but not three times the impact though.
2) The chef, Alex Raij, is known for sandwiches (see uni panini at El Quinto Pino) and this one was decent, not great. After visiting Spain, the tuna should be extremely flavorful and creamy (I still have some cans from Spain and mine are way better). This was a tad dry, but the overall flavors of the piquillo oil and caramelized onion made it tasty. The winner was the bread though - really amazing...crispy, great flavor, and a nice chew too it.
3) A completely WTF sandwich. The unsmoked bacon had such an intense pork flavor which married perfectly with the cheese sauce. And obviously the amazing bread again.
4) Pretty fun combo. The chorizo was great and definitely brought me back to Spain. Breaking the quail yolk made a great sauce covering for the chorizo.
5) Flavorful dish, but it didn't work out so well. Duck breast was pretty dry, which was strange since the meat was nice and pink. The watercress and corn salad was nice, but the corn had the texture of canned corn and the carrots had that same unappealing texture.
Overall Restaurant Experience (60/100)
- Food 8.0/10 – Food was relatively flavorful and pretty fun. The bocata sandwich was to die for though.
- Service 7.5/10 – Our waitress was very nice, but she was lost at times - quoting specials which were already crossed off hours ago and not really sure what to recommend. Everyone was still extremely nice as the runners would even ask how things were. The host also apologized for our dry duck dish - we didn't send anything back, but he heard us say the dish was dry. Very nice guy and he offered free desserts. Food came out at a relatively decent pace.
- Atmosphere 7.5/10 – Very loud and very crowded - place seats maybe 40-50 at the tables and another 10-12 at the bar. It seemed liked all couples (and groups of couple) at the restaurant. Place was relatively dark, so it was hard to describe the place but in the front there's a tiny L shaped marble bar where the bartenders are doing the high pours of sidra. There's also space against the wall where people can stand, but you constantly get bumped into. We got there at 7:15 on a Friday with no reservation and were seated in an hour 15.
- Price 2.0/10 – This was the biggest problem with the whole restaurant - the price was completely outrageous for the drinks. In Spain, sidra and txakolina are fun glasses of sparkling wine, but it was about 1 euro at all the places I visited. Here, they're $9 or $12 which normally would be fine, but they try to replicate Spain and pour you the equivalent of 3-4 sips - maybe 2 ounces...no joke. Plus, the Sidra served here isn't from Spain, but New Hampshire. Completely, WTF in a bad way. The food/service would have been a barely acceptable price point.
It's so sad, since I loved Tia Pol so much but I will 100% never come back here even if the bocata sandwich is one for the ages. I have a price point threshold which Porthos and I talk about all the time. The more expensive the food is; the higher expectation I will have. Here, I guarantee for the same price, I will find another Spanish style restaurant that will make me much happier. The price grade is measures if I'm 100% happy to pay for my experience (food, service, atmosphere) and at Txikito - I 100% was not...