Last week I met up with a friend who’s visiting New York City for a couple of days and we arranged to meet up for dinner for the sake of catching up. Talking a bit about where either of us wanted to go, we settled down for El Quinto Pino.
Entering this tiny, bar and stools setting with approximately sixteen seats with a semicircle-shaped marble bar, this place was filled with diners. And it’s only 6:30 on a rainy evening. Placing ourselves near the windows, our server asked us what we’d like to drink; I stuck with water, my dining companion had his glass of wine. At the same time we asked, “Where is the menu? Or that large chalkboard in the back is the only copy?” He answered, it’s the one in the back.
The madejas con ajilimójili or crispy lamb intestines were not bad. This particular dish was something my friend wanted but I don’t mind trying once. These crispy, knotted tendrils of intestines were barely gamy and it’s tender by itself. When dipped in the pink, garlic vinegar, it’s way too acidic that it took over the delicate flavor of the intestine.
The pulpo a feira con cachelos or octopus, potato, paprika, olive oil was really salty. Even eating it with the potato, it still felt like I’m eating a sheet of fleur de sel that’s chewy and slightly spicy from the paprika. A small discussion with my friend about this plate: if they replaced the potato with daikon (I told him the slices looked like daikon before we ate it) it would’ve made it more interesting and refreshing. Hm.
Moving onto the pinchos morunos or marinated lamb skewer, was simply and perfectly marinated with cumin and lemon. It’s tender, juicy and not at all gamy, as one would expect from lamb. The baguette on the side was a bit soft from soaking up the lemon juice.
The uni panini; the signature dish/sandwich of this restaurant. I had high expectations for this sandwich after reading so many different respectable blogs and print reviews but this was sort of a let down. The mustard oil that’s mixed with the uni was sinus-clearing spicy that it masked the subtle sweetness of the uni rather than emphasizing. The sandwich is still fine with the creamy uni stuffed in Sullivan Street Bakery’s very good stecca bread.
The best thing eaten that evening was their Lomo sandwich which was highly recommended by our server. A small sandwich stuffed with house-cured pork loin, melted tetilla cheese and piquillo peppers, this was something I wanted to eat all night long. Crunchy, chewy bread with a good ratio of juicy pork, gooey cheese and acidic piquillo peppers, this was awesome.
Probably I visited here on an off night since their supposed signature sandwich wasn’t done right and we’ve indicated that to our server and thought that was strange. This place is dark and moody enough to have a date but you’d have to feel comfortable to the fact that there aren’t any tables and backless seating.
El Quinto Pino
401 West 24th Street (between 9th Avenue & 10th Avenue)
New York, NY 10011 (map; website)
Oh wow, I definitely got excited too when I saw “uni panini”! Too bad it was a letdown.
hmm, i am definitely not brave enough to try the lamb intestines. the lomo looks really good.
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