Saturday, June 21, 2008

Don't call them tapas



Gidon and I hadn't seen much of each other lately so I put him in charge of planning a little date for us. My one request: take me somewhere where I will have some choice on the menu. We can all give him a nice little round of applause for this one:

Comocomo.

It means "how do I eat" in Spanish, and the answer at Comocomo is "not with utensils". The restaurant follows the YO! Sushi model, i.e. a handy conveyer belt winds around the restaurant, bringing the food from the open-air kitchen right to your seat. Instead of sushi, you get to sample pintxos, which is the Basque version of tapas.

The word 'Basque' usually makes me think something like 'militant' or 'nationalist', but that was before I knew they could cook! Top of my list was definitely the Bravas Ali-Oli, which was basically thick-cut potato wedges fresh out of the deep fryer, topped with aioli (we had to have that one twice). I also enjoyed manchego with rosemary honey and quince jam, served, as many of the pintxos are, on a piece of bread. Gidon had a seemingly-vegan mushroom mix with truffle oil on millefeuille and also made some very excited noises over deep fried sardines. For dessert we had churros and arroz con leche, which happily put us over the edge towards explosion.

A few pintxos were not so successful, either the flavorings weren't very interesting or, in the case of a white-asparagus-and-cheese dish that I was very intrigued by, the asparagus was virtually impossible to bite through. While we were fond of the conveyor belt gimmick, germophobes will probably be horrified (most dishes are covered with a little plastic dome, if that helps put your mind at ease). They say that each dish will only make the rounds so many times before it gets replaced but you do wonder how they monitor that, or at least I did. Still, we took the risk and came out not only unscathed, but happy.

The color of the plate tells you which category for the food falls into: cheesies (yellow), veggies (green), some garlickies (purple), and sweeties (orange) are veggie-friendly, and are so labelled on the big poster on the wall that gives you the full list of options. There are also fishies (blue) for those who swing that way. The names are a bit to cutsie for our liking, but the food is good enough that we're willing to overlook it. The restaurant also has an extensive wine menu, coded with little icons to help you choose dry/sweet, or what kinds of flavors you want in your wine.

At the end of the night, they count the number of plates sitting in front of you and tally up a bill; the cost per plate goes down the more you eat and there are three set menus of 3 (8.50 Eur), 6 (14 Eur), or 9 (19 Eur) pintxos. There are 6 dishes in each category, so it's more than enough to send a vegetarian home happy. Then again, not all the dishes are on the conveyor at the same time, so we did end up waiting for certain ones and eventually caved in and ordered a couple of things.

Total (stomach) damage on this visit? 20 plates. A rare feat for me but it was obviously all in the name of research. You could easily make a meal out of 6-9 each, depending on how ravenous you are. And as the food is already making its circuit as you walk in, this definitely makes for quality fast food, assuming you aren't too picky about which dishes you take. It's equally easy to linger over a few glasses of wine, wait for the particular pintxos you want, and turn it into a nice, leisurely outing.

As for us, there are still a few pintxos we haven't tried yet, so you may see us there when you visit.

Comocomo
Address: Antoine Dansaert 19,
Brussels, 1000
Tel: 02 503 03 30 Hours: 12:00-14:30 & 19:00-23:00 7/7 Also in Antwerp.
Menu, information and online reservations at http://comocomo.be/main.html

2 comments:

Simon said...

I've only been to Comocomo once, which was just after it opened, and I wasn't too impressed. Then again it was my stag night, so my judgement may have been somewhat impaired...
I quite like Le Bar A Tapas.

Andreea said...

great to discover your blog :) never been to comocomo. somehow the conveyor belt always put us off, but maybe we'll give it a try soon.