Tia Pol is a tapas spot on the West Side with a hip and sophisticated feel. We sat next to a vintage-style Elektra cappuccino machine near the bar. The table was cramped, the service casual, the lighting too dim for photographic exploration.
The first small plate was a deviled egg. It had a distinct smokey flavor and was quite smooth going down. Surprisingly, there was nothing overly tangy or acidic about the preparation, which can sometime overpower this dish, but we’ll touch on that in a second.
Eggs were followed by a tomato croque, which was entirely too cheesy. One or two bites was enough there, thank you. The sardines had their own problem: they tasted like a slippery pile of vinegar. If for some reason you drink vinegar, then this dish is probably for you. Otherwise, not so much.
Fortunately, the chicken liver mousse arrived shortly and nearly made amends for the previous misses. The mousse was rich, sweet and fatty, with a lovely honey and sherry finish from the accompanying sauce. The crackling butter crouton it was served upon balanced the heaviness and cut the richness nicely. It was so good, in fact, that we ordered two.
The squid ink with rice that followed had a fresh, oceanic smell, although the dish could have used more salt. And, not to invoke Woody Allen, but it could have used more squid too. The final plate we procured was a fried artichoke salad, which was tasty but not overly complex. The salad itself was fairly good, but the fried artichoke was the star. Again, more than four pieces would have been nice.
The food on this night was particularly vinegary. I’m not sure if that’s typical, or if they just had a pickling festival in the kitchen on that night. Nonetheless, some of the dishes were just misses. Otherwise, Tia Pol is a fun tapas spot with a few good items. Unfortunately, that’s on par with my tapas experiences. I’m still looking for a big winner in this dining style.
3 out of 4 paws