Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 27
PintxoPote, Los Gatos
Los Gatos’ PintxoPote is a sliver of a restaurant that has managed to survive this incredibly challenging year, despite not having the ability to provide either outdoor or indoor seating.
Instead, the Spanish-Basque restaurant has persevered, largely through the support of a loyal clientele that orders takeout, along with the fact that Chef-Owner Hector Figueroa and his wife Angie Lipsett have operated the restaurant all on their own without any staff, and without taking any salaries.
If you haven’t yet discovered this charming Spanish restaurant, it’s high time that you did.
Right now, the restaurant is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. The takeout menu for the week usually posts on Thursdays.
Figueroa, whose grandparents hailed from Spain, is a former tech engineer. When you pick up your order at the doorway, you can spot him in the kitchen, as Lipsett hands you your food.
The takeout menu features a set dinner for two, which changes each week, plus various cook-your-own paellas for two. Don’t let the latter intimidate you, as very little cooking skill is needed to get your paella ready for the table. You get printed instructions, plu two containers — one of uncooked rice, and the other filled with broth and other ingredients. Just pour the contents of the liquid container into a pan and bring to a boil, before adding the rice. Put a lid on it, then allow to simmer for the required time. It’s not mentioned in the directions, but in the last minute, you may want to uncover the pan, and turn up the heat a touch to create a socarrat or crispy bottom rice crust.
We tried the veal and oyster mushroom paella ($58), which came out perfectly after cooking it for less than 20 minutes. There were plentiful chunks of veal, already cooked that were incredibly tender and juicy, along with big slices of mushrooms. Unlike classic paellas, this one was not tomato based. Instead, a veal broth flavored everything with a meaty savoriness.
Although it didn’t mention it in the takeout menu description, this paella came with a simple yet satisfying medley of sauteed asparagus, fava beans and peas, which was a nice surprise. Also included was a small slipper of bread, which was focaccia-like in its soft, airy crumb and thin crust.
To round out our meal, I also ordered “Dates & Bacon” ($9), six dates stuffed with a Marcona almond, wrapped in bacon, and skewered with a toothpick to hold everything together. This is an ideal cocktail nibble — nutty, sticky-sweet, and smoky-salty. You simply can’t eat just one of these.
There are only four boquerones ($9.50) to an order, but these specialty white anchovies cured in olive oil are such a treat. They’re meaty, with a velvety flesh, and just a touch of piquancy. Place one on a slice of the bread, and drizzle on some olive oil plus a pinch of sea salt, and you have a snack that’s way more than the sum of its parts.
Pro Tip: PintxoPote also sells bottles of wine, including two highlighted each week as the “Chef’s Wine Recommendations.” Open a bottle, and snack on a few more nibbles such as Spanish olives ($6) and black truffle potato chips ($6), as your paella cooks to make it an authentic Spanish feast.
Companion Bakeshop, Santa Cruz and Aptos
It’s easy to spot Companion Bakeshop, especially at its Santa Cruz location in a strip mall on the Westside. Just look for the line outside.
There’s almost always one for the artisan breads and pastries made here with great care and intention.
Both locations close at 3 p.m., so it pays to get to either on the early side, as items sell do sell out.
If you like your bread on the especially hearty side, pick up one of the offerings here. The Local loaf ($7) is made with a sourdough starter plus 100 percent red fife whole wheat. This heirloom flour used to be used extensively in the 19th century, and gives the bread a very nutty and deeply toasted taste. This boule is flatter and more squat than most, with real heft. It is great with cheese.
The pastries are exceptional, including a very plump croissant ($4.25) that’s quite flaky. Don’t miss the delightful everything pinwheel ($4.75) that’s like your favorite bagel transformed into a seeded, crisp, layered pastry with a soft cream cheese center with caramelized onions.
The morning roll ($4.50) is bready soft with spirals of cinnamon sugar inside, and a deluge of sticky caramel pecans all over the top. The cinnamon roll ($5) is simply amazing with its intense cinnamon flavor rivaling Red Hots. The cinnamon glaze is applied lavishly, so you get that cinnamon hit in every bite, rather than just sugary sweetness. A big fluff of buttercream crowns the top, along with more of that cinnamon glaze.
There’s a different mini fruit galette ($4) featured every day. On our visit, the pastry was filled with orange slices arranged over a layer of frangipane for a sweet almond taste.
The chocolate-chip cookie ($2.75) is soft and chewy; and the dark chocolate sea salt cookie ($2.25) is crispier with a deep cocoa taste.
Pro Tip: If you order a number of items, just take care when you go to grab your box at the pickup window. Unfortunately, these boxes are not the sturdiest, more like the thin, fold-out kind you’d get at the Gap. So, use both hands to ensure the box doesn’t buckle, causing items to potentially tumble out. If you plan on ordering a lot, note that you can pre-order if you buy more than one dozen items. That way, you’re assured of getting what you want. But you do have to get the pre-order in 72 hours ahead of time.