If you are a savvy diner, you are on the email list for area restaurants about to open. E-list members of the much anticipated Txokos Basque Kitchen at the East End Market received a surprise in their email in box this week, invitations to a week long preview. Last month, there was the sold out Spanish Wine Experience and throughout December and January Txokos (Pronounced Chō-kos) held series of intimate “Test Kitchen” dinners. Didn’t know about any or all of these great events? Word to the wise, join the Txokos email list before you miss out on any future happenings.
Chef Henry & Michele Salgado have a loyal area following from their Spanish River Grill Bistro Latino located in New Smyrna Beach. Chef Henry is also a 2012 & 2014 James Beard Award Semifinalist nominee for Spanish River Grill, so when the Txokos preview emails went out the available reservations went quickly. Very quickly.
The Txokos menu is dominated by meats and Basque specialties that are showcased on the wood-burning Asador grill. The large grill allows for the cooking surface to be raised and lowered, to control the level of cooking heat. Large oak logs burn at the back of the grill while the smoldering coals are moved to the front allowing steaks, chicken and delicate seafood to be evenly cooked. After my first visit, which was filled with attentive and friendly service, wonderful food and a great atmosphere- I’m very happy to put Txokos Basque Kitchen on my list of places to check back often.
The Txokos menu offers plenty of options for a visit filled with small plates and wine, as well as the option of a full meal followed by a decadent dessert. Neither my friend or myself speak Spanish, but found the menu very approachable with some guidance provided by our helpful server. In addition to small plates, starters, salads, entrees and desserts, there is a comprehensive wine list with Spanish wines available by the glass and by the bottle. Also available from the bar is a nice selection of Spanish beers and creative cocktails.
I started with a glass of Garnacha (Grenache), a red wine grape that is fruity and full bodied. My friend opted for the Txakolina K5 Bodega, a white wine made from Hondarribi Zuri, the indigenous grape to Basque country. The wine was crisp, with nice body and acidity. Both wines paired beautifully with our starters, the Queso plate and an order of the Basque Olives. The briny olives were a nice portion for two enthusiastic olive eaters or four polite diners.
The Queso featured San Simon & Valdeón cheeses drizzled with truffle honey and plated with a house-made fig bread (or Pan de Higo). We requested bread and were each served a Panecillo Tetiña, a traditional rustic roll that Chef Henry and Olde Hearth Bread Company have recreated and developed in lieu of shipping the specialty bread in from Spain. There was not a crumb of cheese or drizzle of the delicious truffle honey left between us. The fig bread was a wonderful accompaniment to the cheese, the spreadable fig balancing out the creamy and flavorful cheeses. The cheeses paired nicely with both the red and the white wines, my friend ordered another glass of the K5 to enjoy with dinner and I moved to the Rosado (rosé) offered, a delightfully effervescent wine which had less bubbles than champagne or Cava and was a perfect accompaniment to our fish entree.
The Pescado “Xixario” on our visit was a whole Snapper; the fish was delicate, of supreme quality and perfectly cooked. The spine was removed, leaving two beautiful fillets. Since we had enjoyed starters, this was a nice option to share with the addition of two sides. As is the nature with Snapper, the pin bones remained after the spine was removed; be sure to enjoy with good friends!
We saved room for dessert and I suggest that you do as well. Of the three options we were tempted but the Olive oil cake, but chocolate won out. The Salted Chocolate Chip mousse was spectacular. The Maldon Sea Salt flakes provided a nice contrast to the velvety mousse and the drizzle of Spanish Olive oil was slightly peppery. The small chips of semi sweet chocolate melted in our mouths, impressive with a chilled dessert. My friend and I could both commented that we would have happily eaten several more of the delicious Espresso Pecan shortbread.
I’m happy to share that the official Txokos Basque Kitchen grand opening is this
Saturday, March 8, 2014. Updated: Management was disappointed to inform me via email that after their busy preview week, they’ve had to postpone the grand opening until Tuesday, March 11, 2014 for dinner. Reservations for parties of 6 or more can be made by calling (321) 972-8852, parties under 6 guests will be put on wait list to cut down on their waiting time once they arrive.
Look for Happy Hour to start at Txokos in the weeks to come, offered weekdays 4-6pm with half price glasses of wine, beer and select cocktails as well as $1, $2 and $3 Pintxos (or small bit appetizers). Brunch will also be starting in a few weeks, with $2 Bloody Mary’s and $1 mimosa’s) Lastly, lunch will be phased in- making Txokos Basque Kitchen a must visit spot for any time of the week.
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