Sometimes the only way to shrug off a bad day is with a little alcohol… and that’s exactly what my friend Rachel and I did last week when we hit up Tia Pol in Chelsea. Problem is, every time I go the wait is horrendous! I frequently find myself balking at the wait times (45 minutes to an hour) and turn myself away but this time I made sure that we went early and low and behold, two bar seats opened up right before our eyes! Score!!!!
So we plopped down and immediately ordered a pitcher of red sangria. This sangria is legit, this sangria is delicious, this sangria is hands down the best I have had in NYC, period. Substantial pours were had and we lept into the menu which is filled with a plethora of traditional and simple tapas. Perhaps we should have gone a few days later as I was nearing the end of my “pork-free” lent sacrifice and being a tapas place… the menu was full of porcine items. Thank god Rachel is so accomodating as she didn’t fuss over having to forgoe nearly all of the menu. The menu promised us an experience with simple and traditional tapas and that is exactly what we got.
This must come as no surprise (especially to my family) but I am a seriously fast eater… I mean I savor every bite but compared to Rachel (self proclaimed slow eater), I look as if I am digging into my last meal on earth. But eating with Rachel has many perks and one if that she has helped me take a beat and really slow down the process by taking my time. xo rach.
Huevos Rellenos el Pimeton de la Vera
*Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika*
If there are eggs on a menu, it’s almost guaranteed that I will order it and deviled eggs (along with poached) are my kryptonite. The albumen (white part) had a great structure to it allowing the creamy mixture of yolk, smoked paprika, dijon (what makes it a “deviled egg”) and various other ingredients to blend seamlessly creating a delicious pop of flavor into your mouth. Naturally, I popped an entire one right into my mouth but on the second go round, I cut it in half (it stayed true to its form) and shared with Rach. It was heavenly… but not quite as good as my grandmothers (I am a tough critic with eggs).
Gambas al Ajillo
*Shrimp in Olive Oil with Garlic and Chili*
Simple (shrimp in olive oil with garlic and chili) yet satisfying. The sizzling oil had a nice little spicy kick to it that not only evenly coated the bouncy shrimp but also made for a great dipping sauce with bread. This was the highlight of the meal for me, I could have eaten an entire hotel pan full of this stuff.
*Rough Cut Potatoes with Spicy Aioli*
Patatas Bravas – Although this is a very common dish in many tapas restaurants, this stands alone as one of the best. Many times you find the potatoes to be mushy and lacking any crisp but Tia Pol creates potato magic with their perfectly crisp potatoes dotted with a spicy aioli…. I was close to eating the aioli with a spoon but feared that Rachel would find me disgusting. haha. The potatoes are great but again there is just something about that aioli that elevates it above every other one out there.
Cream de Higado de Pollo
*Chicken Liver Mousse with Pedro Ximenez*
I arrived late to the chicken liver mousse party (had a disastrous experience with it at Pastis a few years back that took a while to get over) but have certainly made up for my absence in trying nearly everyone I see on a menu when eating out. I have gone so far as to make my own (it needed some more work) but mine is pathetic compared to the one we had at Tia Pol. Slathered on top of a crispy baguette, the smooth texture of the sherry laden mousse just melts in your mouth. It wasn’t the best I have had in the city (that distinction goes to Pulino’s on The Bowery… ya know the one with the bacon jam), but it was one of the better ones I have tried.
Tia Pol is easily one of the best tapas bars in the city; it’s a tiny place with large flavors. But you should know that it can get pricey (we shared one pitcher of sangria and four tapas and paid something like 30 each) so make sure your date pays…. haha. The food, drinks, ambience and service at Tia Pol is incredible but like I said, the lines can get really long so prepare accordingly or make a reservation! Tia Pol is truly phenomenal… good for dates, special occasions and intimate conversations. Ya it can get loud, but really doesn’t that just add to its greatness?! Me gusta, me gusta mucho!
205 10th Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets)