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Jan 27, 2001 11:43 AM

Tinto (tapas), reviews?, BHeights, Brooklyn

  • f

At first I was in love and awe, a huge space in the heights, tastefully decorated - would the execution deliver on the promise?

Then it opened, and it was filled with slinky black dresses and their parents. I worried.

I have been there twice, having never been to Spain I cannot attest to the authenticity, buy it is pretty tasty. My parents are in love, and they are old school - they order everything "well" when we go out to eat.

a pretty wide tapas selection which seems to vary, market wise, which is nice.

bacon wrapped dates, scallop ceviche, garlic spinach, lobster taco type things were great but messy

entrees are pretty good too, fish handled well and generous, but not family style...

vegetable lasagne was awesome, if a little salty but very 'comfort'ing

oh of course - pretty good wine list priced just right enough to make you go - wow those add up don't they?

a good number from spain, though I think I would like to see more. Actually found a bottle we had, that we liked, at Heights Chateau, on the wall - I thought that was a good sign.

service - borders on hip but can be very charming though some _are_ hip...


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  1. My wife and I had dinner there last Monday night. It was our second visit, the first being some months earlier. We don't live in the Heights, so it's not on our beaten path. I was gonna wait till our third visit to post, and try to get back there in the next couple of weeks.

    But since you asked: our impressions on both visits was that the food is very, very good. Some of the menu items had changed since our first visit, but we liked everything we ordered. On Monday we had the chicken empanadas (two small but delectable packets); the scallop ceviche (fork tender, very fresh, plenty of taste from the marinade); the Cuban sandwich (forgot the name) which we had on our first visit and remembered so well we wanted it again, and again it didn't disappoint; a sardine dish that we really liked; and one of the larger dishes consisting of shrimp and scallops in a creamy tomato sauce, again very, very good. We would order any of them again.

    We began with a glass of white wine each, both Spanish, both good enough, nothing special. We also had one bottle each of Spanish beer that we liked.

    We were going to order a bottle of wine but ended up not doing so because of the downside at this place: service. We simply could not catch our waiter's eye. He was working hard (he had the whole room) and kept busy, but by the time he got back around to us, we decided on the beer.

    Which brings us to downside #2: on both visits the beers they served up were closer to room temperature than to cold. This was true this past Monday even though I told the waiter that cold was more important than brand (I wanted a cold beer, dammit). We got the beers by signalling the busperson, who was a lot more attentive than the waiter.

    Downside #3, at least for us, were the several tables who had very young kids who shouted and paraded through the restaurant. Yes, it was a Monday and the place was more empty than crowded, but still...

    And you're right about the price creeping up. Our meal ran over $100 after tax and tip, even though it seemed like we only ordered things that were $8 and $9.

    However, all in all, it is a really nice space with very good food. If they hired one more waiter and set the cooler to a colder setting, they'd be so much better.

    We do intend to return for a third visit, this time on a Friday or Saturday, to judge the ambience during a busier time.

    More then...

    1 Reply
    1. re: George Lynch

      To all reviewers,

      I appreciate the fact that everyone took the time to spell out there reviews, both good and bad, because there is no other way to hear the truth from our customers. One common thread between all the reviews seems to be that we were a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and for that I thank you all. We have tried to fit the needs of the neighborhood and considering that I am one of those neighbors (I moved to Brooklyn Heights 3 years ago)we shall continue to try new things until the right balance is reached.

      On that note, I would like to point out to the reviewers who tried Tinto prior to this September that we have, since September, hired a new chef that has strengthened our menu in both quality and variety by leaps and bounds. Our specials, raw bar, many entrees, and desserts change daily based on what fresh food is available. It has been mentioned before that the tapas menu tends to creep up on you in price, but I have to say that our check average is under $30/person which hardly seems high considering the location and quality we try to maintain. Of course a bottle of wine can up that average substantially.

      Speaking of wine, i am most surprised that one person mentioned a lack of interesting spanish wines. We have spent over a year taking spanish wine classes from Helio San Miguel at the Spanish Institute and going to countless tastings. With his help and our own acquired knowledge we have put together one of the most extensive spanish wine lists in the city. We have over 30 wines to try by the glass and over 90 bottles (mostly Spanish) on the list. You will be hard pressed to find a more extensive and creative list full of many spanish wines you would never normally encounter. In fact, we do not carry the high end "known" wines of spain precisely because they are overpriced due to consumer exposure.

      As to the comments about service - It is the most troublesome part of a restaurant that the waitstaff is virtually the only direct outlet we have to our customers, but we are on constant alert to try and up the quality of service and commitment that our staff bring to their jobs. We have experienced a high turnover of staff in the first months of being open (we have only been open for 9 months) and have recently found the staff that fit our concerns.

      In other words I ask you all to try us again and excuse the mistakes we have made along the way. We are still a fledgling operation with much more improving to do. I can safely say that we will not stop trying to do that. Hopefully in February, maybe in March, we are going to open for Brunch on Saturdays and heard it here first.

      For anyone interested - The wood used at Tinto was taken from a barn in Ithaca NY, shipped down here and milled into what you see. Many of the touches are based on the beautiful things we found while on an exploratory trip to Barcelona long before we opened.

      Again, I appreciate the open discussion and please feel free to respond to me direct with any other comments or questions.


      Benjamin Weiner - Owner

    2. Sorry have to disagree...the food here was at best palatable. There were a couple of standout dishes (the meatballs and the garlic shrimp) but my overall impression was that I would not come back there for food (Why bother when Noodle Pudding is so close?).

      On the other hand, as a place for nibbles and a drink prior to a movie this place works out. Their Sangria is adequate and is a refreshing summer outlet for Brooklyn's Hot Summer Nights.

      1. Have been twice, with my wife, and I have to disagree. The food is certainly nothing special. The service is distracted at best and the wine list, although it does have some interesting bottles (none of them Spanish, by the way--the interesting ones, that is) is actually pretty steep as far as mark-up is concerned. Don't get me wrong, I wish them luck because the neighborhood needs a good place but they're not going to make it on the merits of their food. Too bad...

        1. f

          I see that the general feeling is against Tinto based on Service, Food and Wine, pretty much in that order. I only said it was tasty.

          Good - dialogue is good.

          Now what do we think of Meson Flamenco? - which I have been to twice - the first time for dinner, which SUCKED. The second time for tapas - which were, um, well - I don't remember - how is that?

          Anyway they have a flamenco show there which is kind cool but the space is a little small actually and it is really loud to sit in a dining room when someone is stamping on the floor.

          Food wise - I had a paella which I still remeber as one of the saltiest things I have ever tried to eat in my life.

          Shame because during Atlantic Antic they have one of the best food offerings - grilled sardines and a potato quiche/tortilla (not mexican tortilla)

          other atlantic antic food favorites?

          4 Replies
          1. re:
            George Lynch

            Please allow me to correct you, at least in your interpretation of my remarks.

            In no way am I against Tinto. I think it is a good place that could be better with some adjusting. I mentioned three downsides:

            1. Temperature of the beer: it should be colder.

            2. Only one waiter to cover the entire dining room: it was a Monday, but still...

            3. Too many parents inflicting their kids on other diners: can't really blame the restaurant.

            I stand by my remarks that the food is remarkably good. I can't account for the others who thought it not so good, but our two experiences indicated otherwise.

            The space is really nice, and, although we haven't hung at the bar, it looks like a pretty good bar to hang at.

            So, on balance, I am not only NOT against Tinto, I think they're a very welcome addition to Brooklyn (wish they were in the Slope). If the beers were more chilled and there was one more waiter (at least on Mondays), I'd have nothing to bitch about except parents who seem to think their small children should be allowed to run around a restaurant yelling. (If said parents would pay my tab, then I wouldn't even have THAT to bitch about, but I don't see that happening...)

            1. re:

              I've found Tinto to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It works really well for my friends and I who like to go out in groups but have very mixed food preferences... i.e. vegetarians and meat-eaters. The food has gotten more delicious each time... I wouldn't judge it by traditional Spanish standards, to me it is more "nouveau tapas", a little bit of French, American and Italian influences mixed in. It's nice to be in a romantic, sophisticated but comfy setting where you're not shoved right up next to another table -- very spacious. This place is becoming one of my favorites. Can't wait to check out the brunch.

              Meson Flamenco: The food, although probably more "authentic" tapas, doesn't even compare. The paella was pretty salty, I agree. I don't consider this place to be about the food though.... to us, the point was to get drunk on Sangria and watch the Flamenco show, something fun and different to do here in Brooklyn.

              1. re:
                David Jacobson

                Had dinner there last summer with 2 other people. We were all interested in a Paella for two for $30.00, I aked our waiter if we could get it for 3 people, he said sure. (Note that the menu mentioned 2 half lobsters)He brought out a regular sized paella dish with 3 half lobsters in it. The paella was nothing special. When I asked for the check, I received a bill with 3 orders of Paella for $90.00, I questioned it and he proceeded to get huffy and said "you ordered it and you ate all of it." Needless to say, I protested loudly and asked to speak to the manager, he said he was in charge. I informed him I wasn't paying $90.00 for 3 half lobsters, and $10 worth of clams, chicken and chorizo and he could call the police if he wanted. At that point he offerd to make the bill a flat $100.00 which I agreed to since we had had wine and appetizers as well, and at theat point I just wanted out of the place. Caveat emptor

                1. re: David Jacobson

                  I think the rule of caveat emptor always applies to paella, an invariable disappointment and excuse to charge tons of money for rice and few bits of seafood.

                  As for Tinto vs. Meson Flamenco, they're both disappointingly pedestrian; save your pesetas and head into Manhattan for El Cid or –.

              2. i think you were right on the first time. tinto is a great addition to the neighborhood-about time that a place was able to combine good food AND a little bit of style in the heights, especially the north heights. the wine list is impressive, and more places should have so many choices by the glass- why should only the worst wines be the ones available by the glass?
                i think when they first opened the word was that both the service and food were undependable, and i think that turned some people off. but the last couple times i was there the kitchen and staff seemed much more in the groove. in zagat they got a 21 for decor, and 19 and 18 for food and service. i think the food and service are catching up to the decor.
                it's also one of the few places to go with a date and not get that,"we've-been-together-forever-and-now-were-bored" feeling.