Perhaps it was our mutual love for Spanish tapas... or maybe it was our mutual love of restaurants within a close stumbling radius from home. Either way, for our first official meal together as Angelenos, exhausted from a long day of unpacking and setting up the new place, we found ourselves (and Angela's mother) at Tinto - a lively Spanish tapas bar in West Hollywood.
Inside, Tinto presents an intimate environment with rustic brick walls and deep red drapes. A duo of guitarists season the evening's soundtrack with a Spanish flair. And if that wasn't enough, a jersey from Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo hangs on the wall like a certificate of authenticity.
Angela and I decided to share a few small plates, and began with the roasted beet salad with Marcona almonds. It's just your standard salad of mixed greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, but I'm always won over by the mere inclusion of Marcona almonds. I bet if you journeyed deep into my subconscious, you'd find the root of my love for Spanish tapas is about 80 percent based on a love for Marcona almonds.
The Tabla de Ibericos (below) presented us with four different regional Spanish cured meats: chorizo, catalana, lomo embuchado and salchichon.
Next to arrive were the Datiles Rellenos de Queso Cabrales con Bacon (below), which translates deliciously to Medjool dates stuffed with Cabreles cheese and wrapped in smoked bacon. Again, here's another dish that earns points just for showing up. It hurts my brain trying to think of three ingredients that come together with any better success than dates, cheese and bacon.
The Iberico al Cabrales came next (below). Hearty medallions of pork tenderloin rested on atop apple slices and a Cabrales sauce. For those wondering, the Cabrales cheese is a semi-hard Spanish cheese primarily comprised of cow's milk. While it tends to have a little spiciness, the taste is similar to what you'd expect from any blue cheese. Here, the sauce provided a very interesting and unexpected touch to the dish.
For me the Patatas Bravas (below) is the litmus test of tapas restaurants. Tinto's execution of the Spanish staple was excellent. This was one of the better Patatas Bravas I've had in recent memory.
We split two of the desserts. First were the Churros Con Chocolate a la Taza (below, left) and second was the Tarta de Chocolate con Salsa de Frambuesas (below, right). The desserts were the largest disappointment of the meal. The churros tasted a little burnt, were undersized and we were only served three. The 'hot chocolate' dipping sauce was relatively mild- a warm, chocolaty mixture not terribly different from the hot jello pudding you can make from a box at home. The chocolate tart didn't win us over to their desserts either- a boring concoction that tasted recently pulled from the freezer to thaw. Neither was a dramatic let down, but they were both presented like afterthoughts.
Aside from the lackluster desserts, Tinto provided a fun environment to enjoy tapas dishes that ranged from solid to better than expected. It's good to know that, in a pinch, good Spanish fare is just around the corner.