As promised from my previous post was my lunch at Tia Pol with Ariel. I originally picked out this place for two reasons: I haven’t eaten tapas for lunch before since there are not that many restaurants serve it for lunch. The other reason is because of Yumondo; I need something trendy and ethnic kind of place to write about before I officially sign off from my temporary position there. Since tapas is meant to be shared and I don’t know anyone who would leave work for a good hour or so for the sake of food (and not get fired), Ariel’s my guy.
As usual, I’m early to meet Ariel, even though he already postponed the planned time, I just killed some time taking photos of the place and observe the place.
When Ariel finally graced his presence and discussed about what the heck we would eat, since I’m not willing to order the entire menu, I let him pick three of the five plates.
Piquillos rellenos de ensaladilla rusa was the first dish that we have tried. It’s quite good and rustic, or very “homespun” as Ariel calls it. The sweet roasted red piquillo peppers stuffed with a chunky potato and pea salad, topped with imported white tuna. The center is garnished with a crunchy watercress salad to contrast the sweetness of the peppers with a peppery flavor.
The next dish was pulpo la ideal; a Galician-style octopus terrine. As the photo indicates, it’s a small serving and it costs $14. I found this dish not worthy of $14 because of the fact that the octopus is overcooked. It’s like chewing on paprika flavored rubber. The spheres on the right are potatoes, which were fine but nothing much to write about.
I have heard so many praises about the garbanzos fritos from Chowhound and even Frank Bruni himself. What do I think of these fried chickpeas? Well, I think they’re fine. It’s like eating fried peanuts but a lot smaller and crisper, with a nice hit of paprika and the flavor is slightly nutty. Probably it needed a touch more salt but it’s does not induce an epiphany for me.
The bocata de loma adobado sandwich was probably the best dish. It is also the best value for $9 since it’s very filling. The sandwich is built on Tom Cat baguettes (which are arguably one of the best baguettes in the city), filled with gooey, creamy tetilla cheese, sweet-tangy piquillo peppers, and the slices of fried, juicy pork loin worked so well together.
The final dish was caracolillos barrio chino. In other words, periwinkles, Chinatown style. Yes, I know some of you are turned off by the idea of eating snails of any sort and honestly, it’s my first time trying sea snails. And I should warn you, this particular dish is meant to be shared among friends or someone you don’t mind being a bit of a slob (in other words, not for a first or second date)! Here’s why.
When the server arrived with the periwinkles, he told us a technique to extract the snail’s meat from its shell. It goes like this: take a toothpick (it was provided) and insert toothpick into smaller opening of the snail and push to loosen the flesh from the shell. Remove the toothpick from that hole and suck at the larger end of that snail. Hopefully you’ve loosened the flesh enough to get it into your mouth or you’ll be having a good time digging out the snail out. Frankly, it’s better to do the suction way because seeing a snail naked is not exactly what you want to see. Except for the fact that Ariel found it very intriguing that he wanted me to take photos of it and send it to him. If anyone knows or can insinuate what his intentions are with those photos, please let me know.
Edit: I forgot to mention what does periwinkle tastes like. Well, it’s not my favorite thing to eat since it has a slightly bitter note toward the end of masticating it. It’s gingery and has lots of scallion minced in it, hence the “Chinatown style” and it’s a mess to eat, as I mentioned earlier.
My overall impression of this place is that it serves good tapas, obviously some hits and misses but it’s a great place to hang out with a bunch of friends and have wine and tapas or a casual date (sans the periwinkles).
205 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011