Recently on a trip to LA we embarked on a culinary adventure beginning with a cooking demo by Bar Pintxo Chef David Planowski at Surfas, a gourmet kitchen supply store in Culver City. Recently rated as one of the top 10 bars/tapas restaurants by Los Angeles Magazine, we wanted to check it out for ourselves by sampling at the demo. Surfas had about fifty participants with several audience volunteers helping Chef David with an unforgettable gazpacho, including his secrets: squeezing the tomatoes and cucumbers to get maximum juice and the variability of his standard vinaigrette (has to do with the mustard options).
At Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica we tried a delectable array of small plates and had a chance to talk with Chef David about some of his dishes. “Pintxo” in Basque (pronounced “pinch-o”) refers to small plates that are speared with a toothpick or skewer and usually a bit smaller than tapas. Although we are tapas addicts, I can’t say that most of the pintxos were smaller than the tapas plates we sample in San Francisco and New York. We thought the restaurant was generous with proportions. Some of the menu items we had not seen at other establishments before: dates with smoked bacon and valdeon cheese, crab with citrus essence and avocado cream, seared calamari salad with pickled radishes, albondigas (lamb meatballs) filled with pickled grapes, on a bed of spinach with pumpkin seeds. and snap peas with fresh mint. We did have some dishes we have tried elsewhere as well: grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes and infused olive oil (a little stingy with the octopus, I thought), chorizo with tomatoes, white asparagus with romesco sauce , and jamon serrano and jamon iberico We finished off with a strawberry ginger flan that was an original interpretation of the classic dessert with just the right combination of fruity sourness and gingery tang.
Chef David explained to us that he loved experimenting and changed the menu often. So, Bar Pintxo is a keeper if you find yourselves walking along the beautiful Santa Monica beach and want to have a delightful and unpretentious meal of Spanish small plates this side of Madrid and San Sebastian! Bar Pintxo’s also has an unbelievable wine list , including some difficult-to-find Penedes cava. Try Bar Pintxo’s –you’ll love it!