The Skinny: Great little tapas oasis in the middle of the ever expanding River Oaks shopping district.
The Fat: I love a good tapas restaurant. You can have all the variety of, say, a buffet with all the quality of a specialty entree.
Tintos is in the old Back Door Sushi building, nestled behind La Madeline, Starbucks and a bevy of boutiques that line West Grey Blvd. It's a pretty unique location because it doesn't have a street front, it actually sits in the middle of a parking lot. That's only a problem if you don't know where it is. Otherwise, the location serves as a welcome retreat from the bustling street.
I originally thought the floor plan was a little odd; you walk in the door and you can either choose the dining room to the right with the cool guitarists and the lively bar or get stuck with the lame-o table on the dark quiet left side.
Well there weren't any tables left on the awesome side so we got shipped to the loser side. Soon I realized I was engrossed in conversation, I had a prime view of everyone that walked in the door (love to people watch) AND I could still hear the guitar in the background. Overall, I think any seat in the house is a good seat.
There was a very nice list of Spanish wines so my dining companion and I decided we would order a bottle. As we browsed over the list the waiter approached and mentioned three selections that he thought we would like. He then told us he'd be right back because he'd like to bring them to us. I thought, "wonderful, he's going to bring samples of three wines for us to try, that's a nice touch."
When he returned he was carrying three uncorked bottles...for us to look at. He caressed each bottle, Vanna White style, as he lovingly but vaguely described the taste and tannin content of each selection. I started laughing, a habit that I cannot seem to control in odd situations. We thanked him for his performance and ordered the middle bottle; the irresistible one with sexy curves and a pretty label. Later we discovered that it didn't taste half bad either.
For dinner we chose to order three hot tapas and a salad. There is a huge variety of selections to chose from, but we stuck to the Salmon Serrano, Caracoles Andaluces,Fritura de Mariscos and the Ensalada de Casa. Their staggered arrival over the course of five minutes really allowed each to have center stage for just a moment before the next plate arrived.
First out was the salmon, wrapped with Serrano Ham and drizzled with a creamy wine sauce. I asked for the salmon to be served rare, but when it arrived it was over done. Instead of encasing the small fillet with a thin piece of Serrano, they chose to tie a thick strip over just the midsection; I found it awkward and destructive to try to get a bite with both flavors together. The cream sauce was tasty and the fish fresh, but the dish could have been better executed.
Then came the caracoles or snails dish which was served in a large bowl with roasted artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, lemon butter, and herbed goat cheese. First of all, I LOVE SNAILS. It's already a bonus when they're on the menu. If they are not drenched in garlic and butter, then my next choice would be to eat them like this. What a hit. Each was delicate, tender and swimming in a luscious sauce that even non-snail lovers will enjoy dipping their bread into.
When the Fritura de Mariscos arrived, the pale little pile of lightly breaded and fried shrimp, calamari, and cod disappeared next to the other tapas. The lime habanero aioli was a nice, but predictable dipping sauce. While the dish was kind of boring, the quality was top-notch.
As for the salad, it's always good to get a bowl of greens to go with such rich little dishes. I would normally consider a "house salad" to be an ordinary concoction of bland greens peppered with run of the mill veggies. Far from ordinary the salad included organic grown arugula, figs, roasted almonds, bleu cheese and honey balsamic vinaigrette. For $8, it was a sweet treat.
We had a great time at Tintos. Our server was genuinely kind and attentive, the food was on the high end of the taste spectrum and the atmosphere was a perfect mix of cozy and lively; you gotta love that!
I adore tapas restaurants. They give you the option of trying multiple items while you share each taste with your friends. So fun. Nonetheless, it's still hard to pay $12 for a piece of salmon the size of my cell phone. This place was lovely and the portions sizes are great, but if we could get the price points down a dollar or two on some of these dishes, we'd have a home run on our hands.
Location: 2015 West Gray Street 713.522.1330
Nobody likes a sad, skinny baby...nobody!
Whether I’m ordering a meal at a restaurant or cooking up something at home, enjoying what I eat brings me immense satisfaction. On the other hand, being disappointed in a meal sends me into tantrum mode.
I expect certain things out of a dining experience. I’m realistic about the standards I hold for each place, from the local taco bar to the five star steak house. What I've decided is that it's about a perfect balance between service, food quality, ambiance and price. That may seem like a lot to juggle, but Houston is a big city with a plethora of restaurants to choose from. There’s no reason to expect anything less than the best.
If you strip my needs down to the bare essentials, you'll find I'm very much like a baby; I love tasty food and I love to be happy. If an experience doesn't generate a sense of fulfillment for those two basic needs...you're gonna hear me cry.
Nobody likes a sad, skinny baby...nobody!