Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Topless Tapas

John's b-day was last week, so we decided to meet him for dinner.  John always (or so it seems to me) takes his dates out for tapas, so I was mildly distressed when he asked me to go out to dinner with him for tapas for his bday.  I agreed, but I was ready to drop him if any funny business ensued.  He wanted to go to Twist Tapas.  Twist is located at 3412 N. Clark and its website is

I don't really like driving places in general, but I particularly do not like driving to Wrigleyville.  Wrigley's endless mazes of permit parking makes me feel like I am in the 7th Circle of Hell.  In short, I'd rather eat a razor apple than drive down there, but I was running late on the way out there, so I had no choice but to make the treacherous journey.

John arrived at the restaurant around 8, but due to some near road rage and lots of yelling while trying to find a non-permit spot, I showed up at 8:30.  Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), we did not get a table until shortly after 9.  One odd featur about Twist is that there is absolutely no waiting area, so it is kind of awkward standing on the side of the dining room waiting for a table for 30 minutes and having to dodge people who enter.  I'd highly recommend they figure out a way to put a little waiting area in there.

Beyond the odd waiting area, I really liked Twist.  We ordered Grilled Calamari, Pork Tenderloin Medallions, Beef Dijon, Grilled Veggies and Goat Cheese, Patatas Bravas, and Sesame Asparagus.

Ill just go in the order I listed them.

Grilled Calamari:  I generally don't eat calamari, not because I don't like the idea of eating squid, but rather because almost everywhere screws it up beyond belief, turning it into some sort of rubbery, tasteless mess.  Twist; however, avoided this problem by grilling the calamari rather than breading it and deep frying it.  This way creates an infinitely better texture and even introduces a smoky flavor that was balanced nicely by the lemon vinegarette.  Great dish.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions:  This was served with a red wine sauce, potatoes, pears, and onions.  I also really liked this dish.  The only problem I had was that the potatoes and pears soaked up so much flavor that they kind of stole the show from the pork (even though the pork was really good too).

Beef Dijon:  At first, I really liked this dish, but the more I ate it, the less I liked it.  That begs the question of why I kept eating it, but that is another story for another day.  This was grilled beef and grilled mushrooms covered in some sort of cream-mustard sauce. 

Grilled Veggies with Goat Cheese:  This dish looked like bruschetta, but instead of tomatoes, it had either zucchini or summer squash on top and a dollop of goat cheese.  The cheese was very good, but this dish didn't particularly thrill me.

Patatas Bravas:  Patatas Bravas was my favorite single thing about Madrid (I think that shows how much I don't like Madrid).  The basic dish is roasted potatoes with a spicy paprika-vinegar sauce on top.  Needless to say, I decided that we had to get some patatas bravas to compare to the best thing about Madrid.  I was quite disappointed in the Twist version though.  In Madrid, almost every bar had patatas bravas that were smoky, spicy, creamy, and slightly tart.  Here, they did not nail any of these except perhaps creamy.  It was almost like they made an aioli, but then forgot to flavor it.  No good.

Sesame Asparagus:  I'm not the hugest fan of asparagus, though I have been coming around on the concept lately.  Twist had some awesome asparagus.  Asparagus, as many people know, is notoriously hard to pair with other flavors (particularly wine), but the sesame vinaigrette went almost seemlessly with it.  For anyone who even kind of likes asparagus, you should try this.

Overall, I thought Twist was one of the better tapas places I have ever been to.  There were some hits and misses, but that is to be expected at almost every tapas place.  The hits were really good, and the misses weren't terrible, so I'd definitely be up for trying it again.

Ohhhh...then after that we took John to the dirtiest place on Earth...The Playpen in Stone Park.

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