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Good News/Bad News: Bar Pintxo

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Opening a restaurant during high holiday season is either crazy or brilliant. Take, for example, Joe Miller's (he of Joe's in Venice) Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica. The restaurant debuted two weeks ago, right before Christmas, when people are too busy for new restaurants or traveling. On the other hand, that gives the staff plenty of time to grease the wheels before the post-New Year's rush. Only a few Hounds have had their say so far, and thus, another installment of Good News/Bad News.

GOOD NEWS: One Hound finds the individual tapas (individual, indeed---most arrive solo) tasty and worth the $4-$6/per price tag. "I enjoyed the variety, which is why small plates/tapas appeals to me. I didn't feel that there was anything I couldn't do myself (for a fraction of the cost), but tapas are casual snacks not haute cuisine... and I believe that in Spain they aren't a "meal" but rather something that tides you over before dinner (which starts at 11PM)." [CH]

BAD NEWS: Another is not so forgiving: "Small, too bright, overpriced, BRUTAL stools that almost seem to want to make it impossible for patrons to linger. Some delicious items, but the bill was $80 for two people eating what could only be described as small snacks, 4 total, with 2 glasses of wine. I see some retooling in their near future. [CH]

IN BETWEEN: We popped in last weekend and agree with both Hounds. Yes, the room is small and can be loud, and yes, the stools are brutal (we'd rather stand). But that's all by design: This is not fine dining. A friend picked up the tab, and we suspect it was high (lots of items ordered in mulitples, several bottles of wine for the table), but overpriced is subjective. If quality ingredients are well-prepared, it should be worth the money, no? The mantra from the staff: Pintxo is for dropping in and nibbling, not sitting and holding court for four hours over a nine-course meal. (Those stools will make sure of that.) It's an interesting contrast to the Robata Bar across the street, which is also small, loud, and expensive if you order without abandon.
· Bar Pintxo: Review [Chowhound]
· Bar Pintxo looks ready for business! [Chowhound]
· The Dish: Bar Pintxo Opens Today [~ELA~]