On my way back to Bangkok, I had a twelve-hour layover in Los Angeles. I’m super-fortunate that Gary seems to have an infinitely flexible schedule (although he swore that if I had been in town the following day, he wouldn’t have had any free time) and an inexplicable willingness to spend the afternoon running me around town.
I also really fortunate that Gary and W are such foodies and do all the legwork of trying and evaluating restaurant, so that when I stop by for a brief visit they always have the perfect recommendation. Tuesday evening’s recommendation was Bar Pintxo, a Spanish tapas bar in Santa Monica. We were graced with Steve’s presence, as he had a break in his globetrotting and drove up from the OC to join us.
The restaurant is just a block from the beach, conveniently located near the Third Street Promenade. They have a happy hour until 6:00 and we managed to sneak in just beforehand and order our first round of drinks and some of the tapas specials.
The restaurant isn’t very large and is built around the kitchen area. It is very cozy with tall tables and bar stools and bottles of wine and a huge mirror adorning the walls.
Of course, one must start Spanish tapas with some sangria, right? This red wine concoction was very good, not too sweet.
The happy hour specials include 6 pintxos (“pinches”) for $6, so they loaded up two platters for the four of us. The platter above has crimini mushrooms stuffed with mushroom mousse and manchego cheese; fresh tomato and garlic; and huevos rellenos con vinagreta vasca, deviled eggs with a pepper and onion relish in a vinaigrette dressing, all on grilled bread.
The second platter had Serrano jamon (ham) on grilled bread with olive oil; chorizo Bilboa (spicy sausage) with cherry tomato halves; and tomato conserve and manchego cheese, all served on grilled bread.
The pintxos were all very tasty, a nice variety of simple but bold flavors.
W continued the ordering with frisee and shaved manchego cheese dressed with a quince vinaigrette and served on a flatbread.
Next came a paella with razor clams. Very nice and clean flavors.
You can’t order tapas without ordering tortilla espanola, the Spanish style frittata with egg, potatoes, and caramelized onions served with a side of aioli.
We also ordered the brocheta de cerdo, mojo verde – the pork loin skewer with vegetables and a herb and lemon pesto. The pork was nice and juicy, although the meat itself didn’t have a lot of flavor. The sauce, though, packed a punch.
Me enjoying the meal.
For dessert we shared a plate of churros with a chocolate dipping sauce. This was pretty unexceptional and the sauce was like thick hot chocolate, not really thick enough for dipping.
The arroz con leche, rice pudding with fresh peaches, was much nicer. They bruleed the top slightly, adding a nice texture. And of course rice pudding is a favorite of mine.
The service was friendly although not super-attentive, the atmosphere was convivial, and the food was tasty. Just what I needed before a long flight back to Thailand.