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“El Quinto Pino”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Spanish Chelsea Cheap Eats Great



If you are an avid foodie (which I assume you are if you're reading The Strong Buzz), I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you're just waiting to hear what I have to say about a certain sandwich served at El Quinto Pino. This sandwich, a sea urchin panini to be precise, has been on the lips of every foodie to dine at EQP since this tapas salon opened its doors a few months ago. Everyone's gone ga-ga for it, and there's been a frantic game of telephone (texting/emailing) from one foodie to another. "Did you have the sea urchin sandwich yet? Did you? Did you?" It's taken on legendary-if not mythical-status and it seems that one's "score" as a foodie is directly determined by whether or not you've tried it.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Take, for instance, the pici at Centro Vinoteca, or the sheep's milk ricotta gnudi at The Spotted Pig, the grilled kangaroo and coriander falafel at Public, the gravy meatball sliders at The Little Owl, and heck, everything at Momofuku. For better or worse these heralded signatures become the dish du jour, the must-have item that will define your status as a foodie.

But for all the gnudi, all the pici, and all the gravy meatball sliders and kangaroo falafel, no dish in recent memory has gained the reverence, awe, and notoriety that the Uni Panini ($15, hereinafter the "Unini") has garnered at El Quinto Pino, the second smash success from Mani Dawes, Heather Belz and Alex Raij, the lovely ladies behind Tia Pol. And I will also say that this slim little sandwich lives up to the hype.

The sandwich is fairly simple, but wildly clever-fresh custardy uni nectar pressed between two buttered halves of a thin, crisped ficelle from Tom Cat Bakery, with a kick from a drizzle of mustard oil that makes the sandwich warm up your mouth like a culinary space heater. The filling is buttery and soft, salty and creamy, varying in levels of brininess, leaving you sort of lightheaded from the pure pleasure of eating it. It's about as close a sandwich can get to really good, hot, sweaty sex that I can think of.

Alex explained that she came up with the idea of an uni sandwich not from sex but while at the Telluride Food & Wine Festival. Chef Michelle Bernstein was also at the festival, and she had two leftover flats of sea urchin. What to do with all that sea urchin the two chefs wondered? Why not spoon it o ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Chelsea :
+ Matsuri   + La Bottega   + Tia Pol   + Bombay Talkie   + Cookshop   + D'Or Ahn: THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED   + Buddakan   + Crema   + InTent: THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED   + Trestle on Tenth   + Klee   + El Quinto Pino   + Socarrat   + Txikito   + Co. (Company)   

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