Last night after a day in Philly at the opera, I was joined by a dear friend for a truly terrific dining experience at TINTO (www.tintorestaurant.com) the superb fashionable tapas brainchild of Chef Jose Garces. His chef de cuisine at Tinto is David Conn and the staff all make for a friendly warm, informative lesson in Spanish tapas!
The exposed brick walls have tilted mirrors, lots of wine racks and good lighting with a cozy warm intimate feel. Our server Will took care of every need from suggesting approximately 6 plates to share, making recommendations and explaining the exciting ingredients as well. First came an amuse of MAHON CHEESE CRISPS with a Smoked TOMATO CREME FRAICHE to dip in. These crumbled to bits, but had a slight bite and were loads of fun!
We chose the following tapas and not one was a disappointment: BOCADILLOS de RES-a small sandwich of superb tender BRAISED SHORTRIBS, BACON, ASPARAGUS and Celery Root Aioli
ALCACHOFAS con TRUFAS--Purple Tulip Baby ARTICHOKES with Black TRUFFLE, LEMON and idiazabal (sheep cheese) that was one of the truly exciting surprises of the evening with tons of chokes in a rich, thick, very lemony sauce that we had to beg for bread for mopping up.
PULPO-Spanish OCTOPUS (which was just slightly chewy, but not rubbery), Confit POTATOES, Piquillo Pepper Paint and Lemon Powder was a beautiful and tasty dish that had a swash of pepper paint across the plate, foam on the fish and a little pile of dried lemon powder for taste in one corner.
VIERAS con PANCETA were two huge SEA SCALLOPS with Benton's BACON, Cider Emulsion, Green Apple over Sheep's Cheese Grits and was a mouthwatering treat with so many wonderful tastes in each subsequent bite.
Indeed, many tastes is the essence of each tinto tapas plate...it's not really just ONE Tapas, it is so many things rolled into each dish.
HONGOS a la PLANTXA was a large collection of WILD MUSHROOMS with Roasted POTATO, Shallot & Parsley in the yummiest of sauces
and finally, the ALUBIAS de TOLOSA was a small cast iron pot of BLACK BEANS, crispy PORK BELLY & CHORIZO with Braised CABBAGE.
While the dishes were varied and all so exciting they all were fairly heavy and screamed for red wine--so Will suggested a TEMPRANILLO "Valdehermeso" Valderiz from Joven 2005 in Ribera del Duero that was medium to full bodied and full of yummy flavors with hints of coffee, chocolate and rich fruit flavors underneath.
I really look forward to returning to TINTO again, and to chef Graces gastronomic temple Distrito....where my guest had eaten recently and could only RAVE about!
Well, we can now also rave about TINTO!