Monday, April 21, 2008


txori on 2nd ave. in Belltown is a "San Sebastian-style" pintxos bar, where "pintxos" is the Basque more-or-less equivalent of "tapas," i.e. small plates, usually served at a casual bar.

The space is quite long and narrow and looks like it used to be a small retail space. There's a bar on the left as you walk in, with a refrigerator case containing some of the pintxos so you can look at them. The bar has a bunch of coat hooks below, and looks like it was designed so that one could stand at it, though nobody was going to the bar except the waitstaff. (We went kind of early--the curse of being a parent on a school night...) There are also some barstool-height tables and some regular-height tables. The design is quite modern--light wood floors, white walls, modernist furniture. In the back there are some french doors which right now lead to a dropoff of a few feet; I assume there's going to be a deck or patio there eventually.

The menu has pintxos, which are meant to be eaten individually, and raciones, which are meant to be shared. Some of the pintxos are indeed hard to eat except in one bite. There are two classes of pintxos, pintxos frios (cold) and pintxos calientes (hot). So now we've got the taxonomy of the menu down. The pintxos range in price from $2 to $6.

This is some of the best tapas/pintxos I've had. My gold standard for neighborhood tapas bars has been César in Berkeley, but I have to say I'd be quite happy if César had as much variety of flavor as txori offers.

Although in San Sebastian I gather one would eat a couple of pintxos with a glass of wine or sherry and then wander off to another bar, rinse, and repeat, then have "real dinner" later, we had our entire meal here. For cold pintxos, we had tortilla española, a nice little omelet slice on a slice of baguette, boquerones olivada, which consists of a couple of vinegared white anchovies (boquerones) on a toasted baguette slice with some olive paste, and ensalada de pato confitado, which was a duck confit salad with orange and romain lettuce, served in a spoon like you'd get for soup in a chinese restaurant. Hot pintxos we had included piquillo con morcilla, which was a piquillo pepper stuffed with blood sausage, which was amazingly good. We also had the pulpo da feira, which was a small bite of octopus on top of a slice of potato, with paprika and olive oil ("lagrima oil"). The octopus was perfectly tender. I think I also had the pintxo moruno, which is braised pork.

I had my favorite light dry sherry (La Gitana Manzanilla) to drink. Debbie had some Lillet on the rocks. They need to figure out that Lillet is an apéritif and should be poured in a portion of larger than 1-2oz. (An entire bottle is only about $12 retail.)

txori is open 11am-1am, 7 days a week. Seattle has always struck me as kind of an "early" town, so good to see more places serving good food until late.

Afterward we wandered into the McLeod Residence upstairs, and looked at some groovy art.

Rise of the Machines

You can now get espresso drinks, aka McCafé, at the McDonalds on High School Road. That means that there is now drive-through espresso available on Bainbridge Island. It has that "custom brewed by an automatic espresso machine" flavor, i.e. no worse than Starbucks, and somewhat less expensive.