- George Lynch Mar 12, 2001 12:57 PM
My wife and I had dinner Friday night at Tinto as the guests of Ben Wein and his wife, Jane. Ben, it should be noted, is a partner in Tinto. Despite the implied bias , I decided to post this anyway because of how impressed we were with everything on Friday. I recognize that being at table with an owner offers privileges that other diners might not receive, but our take on Friday night was that everyone was having a great time. And the place was full.
There are several things about Tinto that I think deserve mention that have nothing to do with knowing the owner, and that is another reason for this posting.
The first of these things is how handsome and how comfortable the place is. They have a lot of floor space and the tables are well-spaced as a result. There is a comfort factor here that really appeals to my wife and me. The decor is dominated by wood, which I think is very appealing.
Another really positive element is their wine list, with a very large selection of Spanish wines. The waiter (more about him in a moment) is very eager to suggest Spanish wines, especially reds other than Riojas (although he does say nice things about the Riojas as well). And they offer a number of the Spanish wines by the glass.
The aforementioned waiter is from Pamplona and speaks with a heavy Spanish accent, but he dominates the place. He's been there on each of our visits, so I can't imagine the place without him. It's hard to believe he's not an owner himself, given the obvious joy he takes in talking about the foods and wines. The only downside is that it's hard to keep up with him, given the pronounced accent. But he adds real zest to the whole dining experience there, IMHO.
And I will say again that the food is quite good, and reasonable in cost, to boot. This has been our opinion on each of our visits (four in total, the last being with Ben and his wife, neither of whom we had met before last Friday).
So, while we enjoyed our meal with Ben and his wife, Jane, we also enjoyed the whole restaurant experience on another level. And I thought it worthwhile to post.
Well, I thought of that, and, of course, it can't be discounted. It would be a pretty foolish staff who would not pay attention to an owner.
But my wife and I do like Tinto's and I posted again because we think it really is a worthy place that we'd like to see succeed. We felt that way before we met one of the owners, and having had dinner with him and his wife surely didn't dissuade us.
I have been a little perplexed by the real differences of opinion on the quality of the food. We really like it; others don't like it as much. However, I think everyone agrees that it is an inviting place with a very appealing decor and ambiance.
Ive been to Tinto twice and both agree and disagree with you, George.
I agree the decor is very appealing. In additon to the aforementioned well-spaced tables and wood dominated decor, I also think the glass front (with comfy red couches) and dim lighting are a really nice, soothing touch...the spanish tiled step leading upto the 2nd level dining area always catches my eye...a cool splash of color.
I hesitate to continue here. Its a little uncomfortable knowing the owners both read these posts and are friends of yours. I have always found ur posts to be particularly thorough, accurate/unbiased, and helpful, so with that in mind, I would like to hear what your suggestions would be should I choose to revisit Tinto.
For me, the food was hit and miss. I felt the tapas dishes were mostly excellent and the entrees were void of any flavor. From what I remember the bacon wrapped dates were tasty. Nice sweet/salt contrast and the almond gave a nice crunchy texture and a lingering nutty aftertaste. I also remember the spicy tomato sauce served with crispy polenta to be simple and excellent...loved that sauce! Fresh plum tomatos, hints of oregano and basil and I liked the melted parm cheese that gave the sauce a nice tangy bite. I also liked the lobster tacos. The Gambas con Ajo consisted of very fresh shrimp but the dish was bland.
For entrees, the first time we tried a fish combo of monkfish, clams, mussels in a white (cream based) garlic sauce. It was decent. Nice fresh ingredients but the flavors and spices were not noteworthy. On our second visit we tried the casserole of scallops and a fish (forget what kind) and it was completely void of flavor. My friend had the Beef Bourgignon (is that a spanish dish?? - maybe i have the wrong name) from which I had only one forkful. Again, seemed to be flavorless. I was looking for the salt and pepper. Where did I go wrong with the entrees? Any suggestions?
As for "the waiter" you mentioned i had him the first time I dined at Tinto. Difficult to understand, a little pushy but somehow still charming. This guy is one of those characters who is either "love him or hate him." He's one of those people who can be described either endearingly or negatively as a "force of nature."
ps. i went to Annisa for the first time last nite. Cant wait to try it again...really interesting, unique and tasty food! Great space!
re: Mark M
Let me begin by thanking you for your observation that I am, or at least try to be, unbiased and accurate in my postings (which is why I mentioned that we were guests of one of the owners). It was nice to be able to post my thoughts about our meal because we did have such a good time, but I believe I would have said negative things if that's how I felt, regardless of the fact we do know one of the owners.
I also hasten to add that we only met Ben and his wife the night we had dinner with them, so we can't really be described as friends, at least not yet. Yes, they do visit Chowhound, but I wouldn't let that stop me from being critical if I felt that critical remarks were called for. So I would urge you not to be deterred from saying whatever you think is the right thing to say, positive or negative.
I noted that you did like the tapas but took issue with the main courses. I should say that Maureen and I had only tried the tapas until our most recent meal there, when we all split two main courses after a lot of tapas. (Sometimes we take that approach in other restaurants as well, i.e., order a bunch of appetizers and skip the main course.) I didn't focus on the main courses as much as I might've because of the conversation, but I do remember that I liked them alright.
Among the tapas I like best are the spicey potatoes with the garlic sauce (forgot the Spanish name), the Cubano sandwich (which is no longer on the menu, sad to say), the empenadas (small for the price but really tasty), the "boqueronas" (I think), which is an order of sardines, and the scallops ceviche.
I take your point about the waiter. He is effusive and a lot of people don't like that (sometimes including me), but once I looked past that and saw his real enthusiasm about the foods and wines, I couldn't help but like him. His strong accent can be a problem, tho, as I sometimes have to ask him to repeat himself more than once.
Anyway, my bottom line on Tinto is that it is a really nice place for the Heights. I wanted to see them succeed before I met Ben and Jane, and I still feel that way now.
I hope you enjoy your next experience there.
I'm sure everyone's already commented this restaurant to death but I have to say I was shocked how bad it was. The food was increadibly bland. My husband I were pretty disapointed given the Times review.
Never never again