The Tinto Lounge is located on Gloucester Road in a trendy area of Bristol that has a number of good pubs and relaxed eateries. The Tinto lounge is cleverly packed with scrubbed wooden tables and chairs in a way that just about leaves space for the waitresses and punters to move around and yet gives a slightly spontaneous feel to the place. Like someone wanted to make a bit of extra money, and so shoved a few more tables in. I don’t usually like speaking to strangers when I am out eating, but in this kind of environment I felt closer to the other people around me, in a good way. I asked a fellow diner for a recommendation when one of the options on the menu was sold out for example.
There was a deal one where one could order 3 plates of tapas and a glass of wine for £8.50, and as I am a huge fan of tapas and in particular chorizo we took them up on the offer. The options we went for were; chorizo (naturally) in red wine and garlic, broad bean, pea and cream cheese pate with mint oil, grilled halloumi with courgette and pepper, falafel with a coriander yogurt dip, pork and thyme meatballs in a tomato sauce and five spice pulled pork.
While we waited we had some very nice olives and enjoyed the wine, which for the ‘house’ wine was very nice. There were flavours including cherry, vanilla and something fresh such as basil – that we could detect with our untrained palate.
When the food came it was well presented and colourful and was served with a good portion on ciabatta bread. There was a good portion of the broad bean pate, but it was not quite a creamy as I would have expected and the mint gave it a clinical freshness which didn’t blend that well with the other flavours on offer. The falafel was a little dry, but had nice flavour and there was plenty of it. The meatballs were well made, tasted good and came with a rich tomato sauce which was nice just smeared on a bit of bread. The pulled pork was probably the winner for me – and thank goodness I had taken the advice of my fellow diner who had just had a portion of this himself. As it was tender, flavoursome and well balanced. Not too salty and not too sweet. Unfortunately the other dishes were quite disappointing; poor quality chorizo, thinly sliced and served in puddle of water wine with soggy red onion that would have been much nicer had it been given a little longer to reduce and go a bit sticky. The Halloumi – well there was only around 3 small bit mixed in again with a very wet and fairly bland sauce and small chunks of courgette and pepper that were limp and unexciting.
I would still consider going back to sample some more of the menu as the service was good and there were enough successes to suggest that they are able to put together a good burger and looking over at other tables the other options did look tasty. None of the food was bad enough to make it inedible, but was of a standard that left me feeling that I had definitely had better tapas elsewhere.