The owners of nearby Tia Pol launched this Chelsea tapas bar in 2007. Executive Chef Alex Raij is no longer involved with either spot. Current El Quinto Pino Executive Chef Amorette Casaus was in Spain, conducting “research,” so a chef friend from her Café Grey days, Josh Sharkey, filled in for her. Despite all the factors working against us, we still managed to have a pretty solid late night dining experience.
The space was cool, with beautiful tile work, twin blackboards, one for tapas, the other for cocktails and wines by the glass. There was an oval white marble bar with backless wood stools, wood floors, and a wood bar that ran along the mirrored walls.
On Halloween, New York Times restaurant critic Peter Meehan called El Quinto Pino’s Uni Panini ($15) the “sandwich of the year.” It was simpler than I expected, a row of vivid sea urchin roe on ficelle with Korean mustard oil and sweet butter. The urchin’s quality was no better than what you’d find at a middling L.A. sushi joint, lacking the melting mouth feel of better, larger specimens.
Overall, my friend and I decided that if we lived in the neighborhood, it was worth a return trip. He’s about to live in Chelsea, so he will return. For out of towners, there are more compelling late night options, even among tapas restaurants. Still, it was worth a try.
March 4, 2010 at 2:00 PM
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