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Feb 22, 2010 02:56 PM

Contigo Report

We stopped by this newish Spanish place in Noe Valley. Not exactly tapas, there are however a wealth of small plates and a few larger. Particularly distinguishing was the virtual tasting of fine dry cured hams, which included not only the usual Serrano but also the Iberico Bellota and Loma Bellota from acorn fed pigs, several products from La Quercia, including their own Bellota equivalent and a US country ham. Fortunately they offer the opportunity for a half portion of the high priced Spanish hams, and we went with a taste of the Iberico Bellota. Delicious, and the fat does have a particularly melting quality due to the high omega-3 fatty acid content from the acorn diet.

They also raved about "the world's best cured anchovies" and so I had to have a sampling -- 3 long filets in excellent olive oil for $5. Good, but not worth ordering again IMO.

A salad of little gems, roasted and thinly sliced raw beets, mint, garlic chips, and red wine vinagrette was decent although not exceptional, as was the coca of the day -- a flat bread with nettles, sheep ricotta and onion confit. I thought it was fine, DH thought it too sweet -- probably from the onion confit but possibly also from a dose of sugar that I see called for in many recipes for these Catalan flatbreads.

The best dish was a superlative grilled squid on chorizo-studded black rice, dressed with a bit of thin, very garlicky aioli. The squid was perfectly cooked and tender, and this I could definitely have eaten more of (because it was so good, not because of a lack on portion size).

Good selection of Spanish wines, but prices were high for the pour size.

Overall, not bad... but we have enjoyed Bocadillos more and thought it better value, and so probably won't return.

Notably -- this restaurant seems WAY overstaffed in the kitchen. The tables were quite full, but most of the 5-6 person(!) kitchen staff just stood around the majority of time we were there (the bar seats where we sat overlook the open kitchen. There just wasn't a lot for them to do, as many of the dishes were not labor intensive in the slightest.

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  1. I also ate at the bar at Contigo recently and had similar mixed feelings. It's a good place to sit if you don't mind the servers occasionally forgetting about you.

    I tried anchovies (agreed, the olive oil was the best part with the Firebrand bread; my anchovies were tiny and not the best in Spain), pescadito frito with fried cardoons and dipping sauce (tasty), and albondigas in tomato sauce (big thumbs up).

    I had to flag someone down when I got to the second course and was still waiting for my glass of wine. It then arrived too cold. I got the impression that no one's assigned to the counter, and that if you aren't visibly a big spender, they lose interest. I'm not sure anyone checked back to see if I liked my meal, even though three separate people delivered a total of five items.

    The hot chocolate for dessert is recommended. It's very thick, served with a spoon, and slightly salted. Perfect to share. It was hard for one person to finish.

    I ended up liking the food a lot, but frustrated with the service and portions for that price point. (Over $50 for snacks and a glass of wine with tax and tip.) FYI they add $1.50 per person health surcharge. Taking a page from Incanto, they offer free sparkling filtered water.

    The Spanish wine list is interesting, including a lot of sherries and dessert wines. But not sure how soon I'll be back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Windy

      Fortunately we didn't seem to have the service problems even though we were the only ones at the bar for about half our meal. But given the prices, we probably won't be back.