Jonathan Kauffman's hot-off-the-press review of Txoko aside, lets take a moment to reflect on the other opinions out there about the eight-week-old San Sebastian-inspired haunt from Ryan Maxey and chef Ian Begg. Considering the newcomer: 1) serves a new-seeming genre of cuisine, 2) is open 'till 2 a.m., 3) is run by the well-liked duo behind Naked Lunch, and 4) isn't another izakaya, people seem to be really excited about it. Two Kokkari vets, Jason Brown and his wife Ana Paliza-Brown are in charge of your libations and your sweet tooth, respectively. So, is the team living up to expectations? And how the hell do you pronounce Txoko?
The Price News: Spirit of the City spells it out for us: "The prices range from $3 to $14 (save for the $65 for 2 big plates), so you could get carried away ordering a few dishes and not be shocked when the final bill comes." Jon L./Yelp thinks, "It is pricy for the portions but they make up for it in bold flavor." [Spirit of the City, Yelp]
The Decor News: Esteemed Chowhounder Melanie Wong found, "The interior is rustic making it more like a drinking establishment but the food is definitely a cut above that, as we've seen at Naked Lunch." Urban Daddy called it a "sexy new den of Spanish deliciousness." And Spirit of the City "[dug] the silverware in mason jars." [Chowhound, Urban Daddy, Spirit of the City]
The Service News: Madame Wong had some thoughts on service, after eating here on opening night: "They had to pass a written exam to get hired here and I was impressed by their professionalism and knowledge amidst the evening's chaos." Shreya C./Yelp gave her story: "The wait staff as well as the owner were friendly, extremely accommodating for our group of 10 that turned into 15 at the last minute (yeah, we're those aholes). Not only did they make it work they were so sweet about it.[sic]" [Chowhound, Yelp]
The Bauer Premonitions: Not once, not twice, but three times he's already called Txoko out in his "favorite dishes" blog posts, whatever that means. He calls out Begg's "kitchen wizardry," hollers at their summer squash tartlette, but doesn't ever get overly effusive. [ISSF]
The Food News: T. B./Yelp goes as far as saying, "It's up there as one of the top 5 steaks I've ever had (Peter Luger was forgettable compared to this baby). Crispy and salty on the outside, perfectly juicy and red on the inside. Oh yeah. Their drinks are pretty tasty too." Foods From Spain keeps it simple, and says their combinations are "creative." [Yelp, Foods From Spain]
The "Is It Basque?" News: As far as Basque goes, Bauer said, "the nods to that cuisine feel slight." 7x7 breaks it down: "'Liver and onions is Frenchified with foie and brioche toast, Californized with grilled local cippolinis, and brought back to Spain with a drizzle of reduced Pedro Ximenez, the Dom Perignon of aged sherries." Virginia Miller seems to agree: "Some dishes border more on California cuisine-meets-French...than Basque. But there are enough Basque touches to keep chef Ian Begg's menu from being typical." [ISSF, 7x7, Perfect Spot]
The Dessert News: Virginia Miller had the foie ice cream, and found, it "retains the earthy lushness of foie without being too savory. Creamy and lush, it does well alongside whole wheat sable cookies, and roasted apricots glazed in muscat jelly." 7x7 goes on: "Its ever-so-faint gaminess plays beautifully with the accompanying muscat-saturated apricots." Publicist Michele Mandell tweeted, "Go to @TxokoSF. Pastry chef Ana Paliza-Brown is crazy creative. Date bread pudding w/ black olive caramel, chorizo." [Perfect Spot, 7x7, @michelemandell]
Kaixo ("hello," in Basque), what say you about Txoko (Pronounced choke-oh, FYI)? Fresh opinions and critiques here please, or below in the comments.
· All Previous Txoko Coverage [~ ESF ~]