We were recently invited to try out the new Pintxo Bar in town and thought you might be interested to know more about it. Nikesh has written this review as it’s more a meat eater’s delight than vegetarians. It’s a name that’s pretty hard to pronounce when you first see it but once you get the ‘peen-chos’ out of your vocal cords successfully the whole experience of the purely Northern Spanish-themed tapas bar begins to unravel with ease.
Based in the cosy setting of Sotano in Bree Street, CBD the Pintxos bar is a simple yet inviting experience that offers an array of flavours in bite-size portions. The items to order are likely to be plates that you’ve never seen before and are unique to the South African market, they originate from San Sebastian in Spain.
The sense of Spanish occasion is set by Sotano’s charming setting which consists of small and intimate tables surrounded by face brick walls, an intricate floor tile design and subtly placed plants that give the restaurant somewhat of an homely feel. The dimly lit hanging lights further promote an intimate experience.
Ordering from the Pintxos menu is pretty much like ordering a drink at the bar with most of the dishes neatly on display at the counter. Dishes to order include on sliced baguettes, skewers, cured meats, croquettes and an interesting octopus bowl. Two dishes are available to order; these are the beef shin and mash and the wild mushrooms with egg yolk.
Priced from R8 to R38, the dishes available are quite competitive but one must bear in mind that these are simply tapas that compliment an afternoon drink which is why the Pintxos bar is only available from 5-7pm; this makes it an ideal spot for sundowners.
As mentioned, the offerings are simple and have a very particular palate of flavours. From the baguette selections there are four options which include a tuna remoulade with sliced black olives; cream cheese and aioli with anchovy and basil oil; prawn, boiled egg and salmon roe; and marinated bell peppers with mushrooms.
The cream cheese and anchovy worked quite well together as the pungent anchovy is complimented by the tangy spread and having it on a bite-sized baguette makes it that more palatable. Another favourite was the marinated bell pepper and mushrooms on a delicious baguette.
The bite-size skewers offer a unique experience that just so happens to be a must for any Pintxos bar. At R8 a piece, the skewers range from black olive, red pepper and chorizo; anchovy, green olive and red pepper; and green and black olives with stuffed peppadew. The most prominent skewer however is the ‘gilda’ which sports an anchovy, a green olive and three green chillies. Think of this bite-sized appetiser as the tequila of the Pintxos experience because those three chillies, depending on the harvest, can deliver a mighty kick; the trick to this is eating all three chillies at once. It’s a great experience for those who like their dishes spicy.
The last of the cold dishes is an intriguing octopus with marinated peppers bowl. This one is certainly an acquired taste as the marinated peppers give a bit of an acidic touch to the octopus. For those of you who aren’t a fan of chilled dishes, you may want to give this one a pass but there is an alternative for you.
The warmer selection of foods consist of two croquets; one hake and one ham and cheese, as well as an aptly named calamari cone which consists of small deep-fried calamari bites in a paper cone. The hake croquet was fresh and soft with a batter that didn’t crumble once you bit into it making it easy to eat. This dish isn’t seasoned too strongly so it isn’t as unique as the aforementioned pieces making it a suitable choice to start off with. It’s also a bit more filling than the others despite only being slightly more expensive at R12 each. A personal favourite from the warm selection, though was the calamari cone which had an addictively salty flavour to it. The portion was quite satisfactory as well but it is comparatively more expensive at R25.
There are two more warm dishes available but these have to be ordered from the kitchen. These include the beef shin and mash and the wild mushroom and egg yolk which will cost you R38 and R32 respectively. We only got the chance to experience the mushroom dish which was an unusual but pleasant surprise. The egg yolk, once mixed with the mushrooms, creates a creamy texture allowing the two ingredients to gel together well. The two flavours work together better than you might think but if you don’t mix the two up properly you can get hit with the odd shot of saltiness. Dhanusha definitely enjoyed this the most. She also got to try some unreleased vegetarian dishes that cannot be named, thanks to Sotano for their amiable hospitality.
Overall the Pintxos bar is a great social wind-down that anyone can enjoy after a long day at work. The cocktails are delicious, reasonably priced and the Pintxos items on the menu are not ridiculously priced. Bear in mind, though that these are to act as snacks to compliment your drinks but, you could easily form a full meal with a few of the options if you’re into small portions of food. We loved the vibrant atmosphere and think it’s the perfect spot for drinks after work or a night out with friends.
Until next time,
(on behalf of Miss Dhanusha)