I went to Tinto for the first time last night with a friend. I love Amada, but was a little disappointed with Distrito. However, since Tinto seems more like Amada in theme and menu, I was really looking forward to it. Overall, as has been noted in other reviews, the biggest detractors are the service and horrible pacing of the dishes. If the food had been fabulously delicious and creative, these things might not have been as frustrating; however, there were only 3 dishes I could be tempted to come back to try again, and then only if it were possible to go on a non-busy night.
Entrance: It's pretty easy to find and there was a waiter out front who opened the door for me. The host stand is right by the door, so you are immediately (and pleasantly) greeted.
Surroundings: It's *very* crowded (extremely so for a Wed. night). Tables are close together and paths are narrow. I was sitting on the aisle in one of the narrow points and had people occasionally trip over me--including one waiter. The seats were comfortable and not too tall for people with short legs. (Yay!) I guess the decor is what one would call ‘understated’ or austere, possibly unmemorable, but that’s not so important to me as comfort and food. On the comfort side, while decently sized for café tables, the tables are barely sufficient, considering the whole purpose of Tapas is to get 3-5 plates per person; when you added in water+drinks+the table décor, we were regularly shuffling things around to fit. As a side note, the toilet was having issues both times I went. Given the weak, sputtering flush, I suspect this is a chronic problem.
Wait/Bus Service: Bus Service was good, the water was always full and they were quick to remove empty plates (no doubt due to the table size constraints). The wait service was indifferent. Not rude, but they clearly didn’t care that we were there, that our cocktails were empty, that we’d waited 30 minutes between courses with nothing to eat, no apology, and no explanation for the delay. A couple of extra cheese curls and a “I’m sorry, we had to chase down the pig” would not have been amiss. They didn’t check back after food was served to see if it was ok. All the wait staff seemed hectic and rushed—to me it took the ambiance from hip happy hour high jinks to rush hour diner. During our mid meal wait, I was hungry and asked for another dish which was never delivered (nor, fortunately, added to the bill). Frankly, I expect much better for a dinner that costs $180 for two people.
Cost: As mentioned, we spent $180 for 7 Tapas, 2 desserts, 1 cheese plate, and 4 cocktails. This wasn’t a shock to us, but for those not used to tapas dining, be aware that getting out of a Garces restaurant for $25-$35 means no drinks, 2-4 small dishes, and probably doesn’t include tax and tip.
Food: IMO, Tinto suffers in comparison to Amada, both in terms of the menu and the food. Amada’s menu is bigger, more diverse, and had more things I was interested in. Taste-wise, most of the Tinto dishes were … the word that comes to mind is workmanlike—good ingredients, nice presentation, but not outstanding.
I was with a seafood lover, while I am more of a land lubber, so the only plate we shared was the cheese mixto. This was a problem since most of my dishes came out before my dining partner’s and she was stuck watching me eat. I realize this is because we weren’t doing Tapas “correctly,” but taking into account the other pacing issues (the 30 minute wait with nothing for either of us) left me feeling like they have some kitchen organization issues.
The cheese plate was good, but not particularly exciting. The pricing is similar to Le Bec Fin and LaCroix and theirs are more interesting and personalized. The table next to us got the meat mixto and that looked mouthwatering—get that instead.
I had the Figs wrapped in Serrano ham—while tasty, the figs overwhelmed the ham, they needed to be cut in half or maybe quartered for each piece. I also wondered if fresh figs would be less overwhelming.
The fried potatoes were a mixed bag to me. The blue cheese sauce and tomato compote were delicious, the potatoes were glorified tater tots. Yummy, but not awe-inspiring. Amada’s Patatas Bravas were one of my surprise favorites, so this was a little disappointing.
The pork belly Montaditos has a really exciting description, but didn’t really have any flavor that stood out to me. The meat was well-cooked and moist and they tasted ok, but that’s about all I remember.
The Butifarra--house-made garlic sausage--was awesome. Yes, finally something I want to rave about! It was a little spicy and a little sweet and no part of it over- or underwhelmed (I was especially happy the garlic fit in with all the other flavors, rather than overwhelming). The Pedro Ximénez sauce is filled with whole lentils and perfectly complements the sausage. I would get this again in a heartbeat. However, waiting over an hour for a two pieces of sausage in what is essentially lentil stew (fancy, delicious lentil stew) is ridiculous.
My dessert-- Mato Y Miel (goat’s milk mousse, orange-olive oil caramel, orange blossom gelée) was excellent. It was light and airy, yet had a deep, pleasing flavor that I loved.
My dining partner got the marinated anchovies with melon and peppers; moules basquaise with chorizo and frites in lemon aioli; and the artichokes and pappardelle. I didn’t try the anchovies or mussels, but the spicy fries in lemon aioli were the sort of creative, awesome flavor combination I was expecting from Tinto and didn’t get in most of my dishes. I didn’t try the artichokes, but I was deeply, deeply envious, they looked and smelled delicious.