Pros: Excellent food and mellow crowd. They take reservations and will seat incomplete parties!
Cons: Cramped interior and impossible parking.
The Valencia neighborhood hosts a plentitude of tapas bars, so why would we choose Timo's? Simple, they accept reservations. Afterall, why add to the frustration of driving an hour to San Francisco for a 1 hour wait at Cha Cha Cha's?
Location and Atmosphere
Timo's roosts in the heart of the Valencia, situated on Valencia itself between 19th and 20th. After 20 minutes of frustration, we finally found parking about 8 blocks away. The atrocious parking situation that Friday evening led to people parking in the turn lanes. No joke! The patrol cars turned a blind eye and didn't ticket though.
We entered the narrow storefront and into a cramped interior with a bustling bar. Though we had called in reservations earlier that day for 8pm, they told us we still had a 20 min. wait ahead of us. It didn't matter to us though since only half our party had arrived and we wanted some sangria from the bar anyway.
To our pleasant surprise, they managed to throw together some seating for us in under 20 min.
Six of us scrunched around the table and hunkered down with the menus. After a long round of decision making and some more white wine sangria, we started with the Champi?ones a la plancha. These tasty mushroom caps, grilled and richly seasoned with garlic and parsley won a round of "mmmm"s from the table. I had to restrain myself from downing the whole plate myself. With tapas plates, the dining experience really becomes a tasting menu for each person there!
We also ordered the Gambas al ajillo, and the succulent prawns had been sauteed in olive oil with white wine and garlic bits. As you have no doubt guessed by now, the evening's fare forecasted garlic breath ahead! Luckily, we all liked each other enough not to care and I felt free to lick my fingers after having a yummy prawn. The plates had enough room for prawns for each of us and some enterprising individual may have snatched two off the plate.
The mushroom quesadilla came out hot and bubbly with cheese, cilantro and chiles. The slices tasted wonderful while warm, but didn't entice us much once they had cooled down. If you order this dish, I recommend you eat it quickly before getting distracted by the other wonderful dishes. We had neglected to devour our quesadillas because the duck confit cassoulet appeared. The duck had extremely tender meat, with white beans flavored with pork rinds, and then sprinkled with bread crumbs and parsley. The duck bits still dangled from the bone, which made it difficult to share the dish. Some finessing with the fork required! The confit's portion size didn't seem as generous as the other dishes so we had a second order.
Mejillones en escabeche kept us busy slurping the wonderful mussels and prevented us from talking much. So much for dinner chatter! Marinated in garlic, paprika, white wine and vinegar, the mussels had a savory flavor and that completed the sangria well. Ken singled out the Catalan style spinach with pinenuts, raisins and apricots as his favorite dish of the evening while I couldn't stop raving about the pescado of the day--spice rubbed salmon.
With so many dishes, we couldn't keep track of our orders and what had arrived. Our waitress seemed to pop in and out, but the food kept us too busy to complain about the inconsistent service.
At the end of all the eating, and 3 carafes of sangria later, no one had room for dessert. The mellow dinner conversation suited the relaxed atmosphere and excellent food.
The Bottom Line
I highly recommend this restaurant for small group dining or couples. While tapas plates require family style dining, kids should remain at home. Perhaps my favorite part of the dining experience came from the just right noise level. No loud music and drunken laughter, just happy eaters and the clank of many plates and glasses. Perfect.
I submit this belated entry to the e-prime write-off, hosted by proeditor. E-Prime excludes the use of the "to be" verb family: be, is, am, are, was, were, been, being and the contractions 'm, 's and 're. If you catch any in this review, please leave a comment.
While this exercise certainly forced me to boost my writing intensity, I may never do it again as I had to agonize over each word and phrasing, endangering the very existence of this review at all!
For more e-prime fun, please check out reviews from tlimjoco, eplovejoy, Sloucho, GinaHill, rich2003dm,
epicure, wovengold, pageclot, hhassell99, teskue,
magenta321, LEDOMAINE, lernerj, DrDad, Howard_U,
jankp, nylawgirl, KateTPZ, amykhar, proeditor
dequebec and mike24.