Like many tapas restaurants, Tinto Tapas – who have five establishments to their name – offer a very reasonable lunchtime deal of three tapas for £7.95. This seems to be especially good value when you learn that there are no supplements on any of the dishes, even the those priced £6 or £7 individually. Thus, when four of us visited yesterday the smartest option seemed to be to order 12 dishes and share them all.
Tapas is one of my favourite things to eat as you get to try a little bit of everything, and we were certainly able to choose a wide range of dishes. The Pan Serrano – garlic bread topped with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese – was nice, although would have been better had it been a slice of nice ciabatta or something similar, instead of the out-of-a-packet brown bread that was actually used. We ordered two dishes of Calamares since Rosie and I are such big fans and although it was well cooked and not chewy, I would have liked thicker rings of squid in a slightly crispier batter. The Gambas Pil Pil were billed as king prawns in a chilli and garlic oil – as nice as they tasted they were the smallest king prawns I’ve ever seen. We also ordered the prawns deep fried in a paprika batter which were nice and crispy, although the smoked paprika definitely added more colour than flavour. This was the same in the Pollo Rebozado – chicken strips in the same batter.
Along with these dishes we ordered a number of typical tapas standards, which were all good but not amazing. For me, the best dishes on the table were the Pollo y Chorizo – chicken breast topped with chorizo and Manchego cheese in tomato sauce – and the gooey, creamy baked goats cheese with red onion chutney. One of the problems that could be attributed to a number of the dishes was a lack of strong flavours. We ordered dishes with chorizo, salami and black pudding and, for me at least, they all lacked the intensity of flavour that you would expect.
Another issue, and this is one that many tapas restaurants are guilty of, was the temperature of the food. Everything was brought at once, which means that some of it has, inevitably, been sitting under the lights for longer than one would like. Instead, I’d like to see dishes brought as they are ready, meaning they should be piping hot when they arrive, rather than lukewarm.
All in all, definitely not a bad lunch – I’ve had worse and I’ve had better. I would argue, however, that Tinto Tapas could elevate their food quite considerably by altering just a few simple things.