Time to practice your Basque Xs, because Ryan Maxey and Ian Begg (Naked Lunch) are opening their San Sebastián-inspired restaurant, ~TXOKO~. To begin, here’s how you say it: like tchotchke, just add a little “T” to the word choke, tchoke-oh. Okay, now that you’ve got that down and are ready to start drinking some Txakoli, here’s what is on Begg’s sample menu: there will be a variety of small bites (pintxos) for $3-$7, like oysters, fava bean cuscurro (crostino), and a Roncal cheese croqueta; slightly larger small plates include crispy Chesapeake Bay soft shell crab ($12) with piquillo pepper purée, bacon, spring onions, herbs, crispy sweetbreads ($10), and grilled octopus ($8) with potato pearls, sea beans, ramps, and truffle foam. Bigger plates include oven-roasted suckling pig ($32) with spaetzle, Madeira, yam purée, and mustard greens, and rex sole a la plancha ($25), with summer squash and potatoes. There will also be a cheese selection, and dessert includes gâteau basque ($6) and foie gras ice cream ($8) from these foie-loving dudes.
They’re going to be open late (kitchen until 1:30am, bar until 2am), providing a place for their industry pals to dine and drink late. GM/owner Ryan Maxey (who was the sommelier at Café Majestic when he worked alongside Ian Begg) has dedicated 80% of the wine list to Iberian wines. The cocktail menu by bar manager Jason Brown (Kokkari, Michael Mina) includes a Picon Punch (Brinba Picon, grenadine, Torres brandy, soda water) and the Fatty Arbuckle, with bacon-infused Elijah Craig bourbon, verbena simple syrup, and tobacco tincture. (At first I was a little perturbed by a drink being named in honor of Fatty Arbuckle, but reading the lengthy history of his scandal was super fascinating, and made me change my mind.)
More on the history tip: the Enrico’s space has been transformed from a live music venue into more of a “Basque-style tavern with a modern twist.” Urban Chalet is behind the redesign, and local artist Jeremy Fish did the mural (along with their logo). They added a communal table, and there’s a spacious bar area, plus both indoor and outdoor seating (45 and 35, respectively). I’ll have more details and some pics in a couple weeks.