Everyone needs to get out of Charm City, once and a while. ANXO gives you a good reason. The building is gorgeous. Sam Fitz and his team are wonderful people. There is outside seating (well when the weather cooperates) and a first floor bar seats and plenty of standing room. The upstairs dining room provides a quieter atmosphere with this gorgeous chandelier means something for everyone.
It’s a Basque inspired cidery and pintxos bar. You may be thinking of hard ciders like Crispin, when I say cidery. Just like the grapes that wine, apples can make a variety of drinks ranging from full bodied, to fruity, to rustic and even bubbles. I have had a Spanish cider that smells and tastes as funky as blue cheese. As far as I know, there aren’t any other ciderys in the area. They are making some of their own in collaboration with Millstone Cellars and mostly locally sourced ingredients in a traditional process; a process which has more in common with wine than beer.
The bar has about 20 taps of different ciders. I take advantage of their daily flights to learn more about my tastes for hard cider. The flight lets you determine what you like about some ciders (or dislike if the case may be…). A quick chat with one of the folks behind the bar (like Tim Prendergast), and they can easily find you a cider you will enjoy. I have found that I truly enjoy the bubbly cider from Eden and also a red rosé from Snow Drift. The menu changes often; the team is always adding new and exciting flavor profiles, so I expect to deeper my knowledge and love of ciders.
Just like the ever changing cider menu, the food menu by Chef Alex Vallcorba changes regularly as well. Pinxtos is a perfect way for me to get to try lots of different bites and not break the bank. The downside is these bite size morsels are not perfect for sharing. So, sometimes you need multiples. In the style of Spain, many of the pintxos are ready and waiting for you to order – perfect for those of us who need a bite in order to relax and process the menu. These here were the tasty sherry marinated mussels.
We ordered just about one of each; the ones pictured above were plated immediately. In clockwise order starting at the top right, above are the Chistorra sausage with aged manchego. Escalivada Montadito with roasted eggplant, layered with sweet baby pepper and topped with anchovy. This one packs a punch in a tiny bite. The rich creamy eggplant pairs perfectly with the salty anchovy. Gilda – a huge manzanilla olive wrapped with a salty anchovy and skewered with a guindilla pepper. I like this one the best, but its a little hard to eat unless you do it all in one big bite. Tortilla de Patatas Montadito – a fancy spanish potato omelet served on top of bread with tomato, it’s tasty. The bread is good too with the tomatoes. Although, I ate these in two separate bites. I would be sure to order a couple of the fritters or the croquettes they have on special; the salt cod ones are hit. Get 2 of each!
The cider poached pulpa quickly became one of my favorite octopus dishes. I love love love the saffron mashed potatoes. It’s poached in their house cider and grilled on the plancha; rich in flavor with a slight crips, but still tender.
The fried calamari on toast was the special of the evening. The crispy squid was seasoned perfectly. The bread was a nice touch for a contrast in texture. I loved this dish. Let’s be real, everything tastes better fried.