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#1 joethefoodie

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:17 PM

Though it may not be 100% ready for prime time, according to Eater Donostia is: Status: Certified Open.

 

By sheer coincidence (seriously), we happened to find ourselves sitting at the bar just after 6 PM tonight.  And though there may have been technical glitches in getting the food out of the tiny kitchen, the concept, the warmth of service and the tastes on the plate mean we'll be giving this place a bunch of visits in the near future.

 

Modeled after the great Quimet y Quimet in Barcelona, most everything that is served food-wise starts out in a can or a jar (which are for sale) or is preserved in one way, shape or form. It's presented, perhaps on a slice of bread (montadito) or on a pick (banderilla). There are bocadillos; there are tortillas; there is ham; there is cheese...the menu is long and deep - we barely made a dent.  What we ate, we mostly liked (though the hand-sliced ham needs a sharper knife and...a better hand) and I would prefer some stuff more room-temperature-y as opposed to fridge cold, but that's probably a DOH thing.

 

There's a quite nice sherry list. Delicious cocktails made with sherry.  A nice vermouth list. Cocktails made with vermouth. Cocktails made with vermouth and sherry.  There are sidras (ok, ciders) including a super tart, crisp one on draught - from Michigan, no less.  A number of beers.  I didn't read deeply into the wine list, though it also had plenty of choices. You won't run out of things to drink or eat here, that's for sure.

 

The room, directly across Avenue B from Thompkins Square Park, is long and narrow, and by narrow I mean it's about as wide as the 4th floor walk-up railroad flat apartment Sig Eater and I shared for years, but they've made good use of the space.  There are tiny two-tops along one wall opposite the bar, and as you walk towards the back, there's a little semi-private alcove with a dining table that holds 6 (or 8, it they're all models).  And a few more tables in the back, opposite the kitchen.

 

Give it a week or two, then give it a try - they're even open for breakfast at 7:30 in the AM - and evidently have a local guy from the neighborhood as their barista.  I have a weakness for this type of food and a weakness for sherry and vermouth, too. Donostia  Kafetegia y Merkatua fits the bill and is a nice addition to the  East Villages' dining and drinking options.



#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:18 PM

Isn't there already a can-or-jar tapas place in the EV? Is this a trendlet?
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#3 joethefoodie

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:20 PM

There might be (is it still open)?  I wouldn't mind it as a trend - especially with a sherry/vermouth list like this one.



#4 Steve R.

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:25 PM

Sample, on Smith St. in Bklyn, has been doing this for years.  Nice, friendly place that I haven't managed to get back to for quite awhile.


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#5 joethefoodie

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:27 PM

I think I went to sample 7 or 8 years ago. 



#6 LiquidNY

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 09:32 PM

I went here last night.  Nice little place.  Gentle prices.  But I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to go there.

 

I know it's a thing in Spain to serve canned stuff, but (at this place, at least) I think canned stuff just isn't that great.

 

As joe said above, they serve everything in a variety of ways - on toast, in sandwiches, just plain if you like, or as a "salad" for a couple bucks extra.  They also have a couple samplers for $13 or $14 that allow you to try a pretty wide variety of the menu.  I ordered the $14 sampler (contained octopus, sardines, anchovies, piquillos, manzanillas, and a few other things), white asparagus, manchego anejo, jamon serrano, and an arrope sundae.  I also tried a couple glasses of sherry.

 

The food tastes... well... like it came out of a can.  It was alright.  I mean really, you don't have to be Ferran Adria to open a can of sardines and put it on a plate.  I thought the best item by far was the anchovies.  The rest I could take or leave.  The aged manchego was also pretty good.  The jamon serrano - eh, just ok.  The arrope sundae was mostly ice crystals.

 

This place is really a bar, not a place to have dinner.  I would go back for wine, cheese, and anchovies.  The bocadillos might be decent too - they looked like a good deal for around $7.


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#7 Wilfrid

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 06:32 PM

Isn't there already a can-or-jar tapas place in the EV? Is this a trendlet?

 

Maiden Lane, about a block away.

 

I've been stopping outside to read the menu but haven't had a chance to go in.  There are complaints on Yelp that this isn't a good place to get dinner, echoing Liquid's point in a less well-informed way.  It's a tapas bar.  New Yorkers, for the most part, think that a tapas bar is a kind of restaurant.

 

This is like a fancier 100 Montaditos (judging by the menu).



#8 Stone

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 07:00 PM

For the most part, tapas bars have presented themselves as restaurants.  I think there haven't been many actual tapas bars (as I think you're using the term).  Most are restaurants that just serve small, over-priced plates of food.


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#9 Wilfrid

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 10:43 PM

Yes, precisely, and it's very difficult to do anything else in NYC, given overheads.  El Quinto Pino, I guess, qualifies.



#10 joethefoodie

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 11:59 PM

I went here last night.  Nice little place.  Gentle prices.  But I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to go there.

 

 I mean really, you don't have to be Ferran Adria to open a can of sardines and put it on a plate.  

See, I'll go out of my way to go if I want to drink sherry from a pretty deep list while eating some snacks. 

 

Were you expecting El Bulli? Tickets?



#11 LiquidNY

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 12:07 AM

See, I'll go out of my way to go if I want to drink sherry from a pretty deep list while eating some snacks. 
 
Were you expecting El Bulli? Tickets?


There's a fairly wide chasm between cooking at El Bulli and opening a can.


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#12 joethefoodie

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 12:15 AM

But were you expecting something different from a place that advertises itself as a conservas bar?



#13 LiquidNY

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 12:36 AM

But were you expecting something different from a place that advertises itself as a conservas bar?


A quote from my original post:
 

I know it's a thing in Spain to serve canned stuff, but (at this place, at least) I think canned stuff just isn't that great.


From my perspective, either it isn't a very good conservas bar, or I just don't understand why anybody would want to go out and pay to eat this stuff.  In Spain maybe they give it away for free when you order wine.  That would make more sense.


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#14 joethefoodie

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 03:31 AM

They don't.



#15 Orik

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 03:44 AM

As usual, I'm sure it's all about pricing. The cans of stuff that Quimet base their miniature wonders on cost something like $14 on average for a small (2-3oz) can, which would be $28 once it's been through Despana's markup machine. 


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns