Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Txokos Basque Kitchen

After much anticipation Txokos Basque Kitchen opened in Orlando this month in the building housed by East End Market. I've been hearing about the plans for Txokos for what seems like years. I have eaten at it's sister restaurant, Spanish River Grill, in New Smyrna Beach a couple times and was really impressed.

I got there at 5:30 just after opening without a reservation and I was the only guest, I saw some familiar faces among the staff which was nice. I sat down at the bar and ordered one of the Spanish Beers. They had a good selection of beers most of which I hadn't heard of. They also had a couple cidras that according to the staff are similar to ciders but not as sweet and drier. I ordered the 1906 beer which was a darker beer and it was quite good. When I visited Spain about 5 years ago their beer selection was quite poor in most places, with the only beers I could find were Estrella Damm and Mahou, both of which are not very good beers in my opinion. As a result during the trip I would order sangrias instead of beer. It was great to find that the staff had made such an effort to find good Spanish beers to serve at Txokos.

After my date arrived we moved to a table with a view of the wood burning Asador grill. The wheels you see on the top allow the grill plates to be raised and lowered. This is my one complaint about the evening, while the Asador is very visually appealing the grill created a lot of smoke, so the room got a bit smoky at times. I'm told they are working on putting some equipment in to alleviate this. Also we were there when they had just recently started the grill so the smoke was probably thicker than it would be later in the evening.

The name Txokos comes from the Basque region where Spain and France meet and refers to gastronomical societies or groups of friends who get together to cook, sample and talk about food and drinks.

From Wikipedia: "During the Franco years, txokos became increasingly popular as they were one of the few places where Basques could legally meet without state control, speak Basque and sing Basque songs as the constitution of the txokos prohibited the discussion of politics on the premises"

If you are interested in learning more about Txokos and the Basque region, this book: The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky (Amazon link) is required reading by the staff of Txokos.

The Txokos logo also reflects it's Basque influence with the 7 pointed star and the Harpoons in it's logo. The Basques were the first to commercially hunt whales. The 7 pointed star in the logo represents the seven provinces of the Basque region.

We started our meal with the Manchego and fig appetizer $4. Quite simple and delicious. I loved the sweetness of the fig with the mild flavor of the cheese. It was topped with a sherry dressing. Well worth the money.

Next up was the Marrow Bone appetizer $13. Canoe Cut roasted beef bone. Anchovy Vinaigrette, Aioli. This was a superb dish and the bread slice which had a slight char to it was a perfect pairing. The aioli sauce was quite rich and flavorful.

For the main courses, I ordered the Oxtail while my companion ordered the pasta.

The Sherry braised Oxtail "Matador" with pimentón, mire poix, served over Drunken Goat cheese stone ground grits. $23. The sauce had a rich flavor but it took a little work to get all the meat off the bone. I loved the grits.

Fideo Bolognese $23 - Toasted pasta, brisket, foie, Serrano, wild mushrooms. This dish looks rather simple but the taste was excellent.

For dessert was shared the tart, Gateau Basque - Almond Custard Tart, Bordeaux cherries, red wine-cherry gastrique $8

All the food was wonderful and there wasn't a dud in the bunch.

There were many other dishes I will be going back to try, the ones that caught my eye:

"Caldo Gallego" - traditional heary stew with beef, pork, beans and greens

The Foie - Duck two ways, liver, egg, porcini, potato puree

and the Wagyu Brisket.

Txokos is a great place to stop in for a drink or to take a date for dinner. It's a great addition to the East End Market. 

Here are some menus:

Txokos Basque Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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