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Tinto


philadining
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Foobooz has posted a pdf of the menu. Looks good...

(And the graphic designers among us will be happy to see that guy Lorem Ipsum finally gainfully employed in the kitchen, holding down a responsible job for a change, rather than just standing around taking up space...)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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(And the graphic designers among us will be happy to see that guy Lorem Ipsum finally gainfully employed in the kitchen, holding down a responsible job for a change, rather than just standing around taking up space...)

Too funny! It's about time that guy got a job.

Anyway, a nice-looking menu. Literally; it's quite attractive. The food looks interesting, too. Somebody needs to give us a report!

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The space that used to be Crimson Moon, right?

I don't think so, I think it's next to where they were, it's not right on the corner.

Perhaps the most important landmark is that it's directly across 20th street from Capogiro.

I think the location formerly housed a bookstore/art store.

Warren Art Books seems to come to mind, but I might be mixing my establishments.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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I've been reading egullet for quite a while and I decided I'd come out of lurking to contribute to the community. Here goes, then: unfortunately, my first contribution will not be glowing praise.

First of all, a bit of backstory. My girlfriend and I have been to Amada in mid-2006, we loved the food but the service and the ambient noise were bad enough to make sure that we would not return. Therefore, I was somewhat concerned when we made reservations for Tinto for yesterday night, Friday (which to the best of my knowledge was opening night).

We were lucky in that yesterday's weather helped to keep the crowd down: I was pleased, because I figured that this would temper the noise and service problems, if they were to surface. Unfortunately, that proved to be an optimistic estimate.

In order to allay any suspcion about an 87000-word untempered bashing, I have to state from the start that the food, in and of itself, was good to very good. There was good variety in the menu, the ingredients were, generally, very good (with some unfortunate faux passes, such as the belly tuna which was not as fresh as it could have been and the forgettable 'kobe' beef) and there was some very good display of technique, with some points of excellence (the goat milk mousse dessert was really remarkable both in composition and in execution).

The problem, unfortunately, is that a restaurant is not only about the food. And, again unfortunately, this new venture has precisely the same problems Amada does, with a twist.

First and foremost, it's trying too hard to be hip. Much, much too hard. The bistro table and chairs, half hip and half space necessity, are small and probably derive from some recently-discovered writing of that master of ergonomics, Torquemada.

The marble floor and mirrored walls (with cellar-wine-storage like wooden trellising in front) don't give the low, untreated ceiling any help in reducing the noise and the open kitchen at the back is not as successful as Osteria at keeping the kitchen smells out of the dining area. The result was a noise level that made it effectively impossible to hold a civilised conversation - with the dining room half empty. It must be positively stunning when it's completely full.

But the piece de resistance, that is the service: I must admit to having low tolerance for modest service and extremely low tolerance for modest service performed by a staff that is trying their utmost not to pay attention to what the patrons are actually asking. It is one of my many failings. This place, however, didn't require my heightened sensitivity to the matter to cause an almost invincible desire to have a nice, friendly chat with the manager to take over the mind of any patron within the first five minutes of permanence.

The server had clearly been instructed in how to approach customers: he was to make sure that wine was ordered (note that I say ordered, nothing more) and he was not to worry particularly about explaining the structure of the menu.

The gentleman executed with a precision worthy of the best assault teams in the military: he presented us with menus, asked what variety of water we'd like, went and returned with the water and then proceeded to ask us no less than five (5) times in a span of about six minutes if we'd made up our mind about our drinks, while we were persistently trying to wheedle out of him some clarity as to the items that composed the menu. On the third or fourth try he went beyond 'make sure to ask any questions you have' and disappearing, so we were able to confirm which varieties of food pertained to which box on the folded menu.

We proceeded to order a first flight of items (the place is a tapas or small plates establishment, so multiple items recommended), while telling him that we were still working on the menu, so drink orders would come in due time. A few minutes later we had decided on the rest, so we ordered a second series of items and two glasses of wine - white - which would serve, we thought, to stem the tide of requests from the waiter.

Naturally, we'd selected the items in a specific order which would allow us to have 'neutral'-appetizer items first, then fish items and finally the meat items and vegetables. This would also have enabled us to order a second flight of wine, red, to go with the meats. Naturally, this was completely ignored by our attending personage, who after so much effort in making sure beverages was ordered, was clearly too taxed to produce them in a timely fashion, so the two wine glasses appeared with the third or fourth item that was served and ordering the red - despite my request that the wine list stay at the table, completely ignored - took a significant amount of time and effort, only surpassed by the time and effort that it actually took to receive the red forementioned.

Thanks to such a display of timeliness, we got to enjoy the mixto of charcuterie (quite good, the duck breast, I think it is, is particularly recommended, so are the egg salad and the pickled guindillas), the boquerones (very good but overpowered by too much of the pickled hot pepper) and the higos con jamon (very good but again, the hamon/higos balance was off, with too much sweetness) completely devoid of wine. To follow, we had kobe beef montaditos - indifferent - and brochetas de cordero - lamb and eggplant skewers served in shot glasses filled with a bechamel base to replicate something not unlike a destructured moussaka, good even though the lamb was a touch on the chewy side - with a delightful muscat sec and a delightful sauvignon blanc and we finally received the two tempranillos - one corked, badly and neither of them remarkable - just in time to savor them over the marmitako de ventresca (which would have been excellent had the ventresca not been marginal, with the raw cubes of ventresca topping a potato-based clear soup with chunks of cooked ventresca in it) and the chipirones en su tinta (very good quality, here, making me believe that the ventresca may have been a fluke).

In order to help the wine a bit, we followed with some montaditos de panceta - one of the finest dishes of the evening, with the now-omnipresent pork belly wonderfully counterpointed by green apple - and the habas au gratin (not gratinados as per the menu on foobooz, but the preparation is the same, another strong point of the evening, with the fava beans and the sweet onions playing very well with the cheese gratin).

By this point my girlfriend recognised that the signs that lead to a march towards the owner or, failing that, the manager, were becoming difficult to contain. She suggested we wrap it up, so we ordered dessert, which I have to say helped my blood pressure considerably: the txokolami was a very good, innovative interpretation of the dish carried out with considerable technical skill (the chef elected to considerably reduce the bread 'white spots' in the dish to deliver a more concentrated chocolate punch, a choice helped by slicing the log thin and serving a small amount of it) but the standout, probably for the entire meal, was the goat cheese mouse [sic], excellently prepared with none of the gelatin bounciness that belies uncertainty in preparation and with an olive oil-caramel emulsion that managed to overcome my northern-italian-bred aversion for olive oil in anything but salads. There are few others who managed this, one of them in the local scene is Marc Vetri, again in a dessert (he, however, also gets redeeming points for using butter everyplace else, so I suspect I give him a head start. I also incidentally happen to think he's one of the finest chefs I have ever encountered, but that is a matter for another review).

Coffee was ordered and consumed, at this point the waiter seemed considerably better disposed towards us except for the detail that I had to tackle a busboy to obtain the check (which is something else that makes me want to experiment on the service staff with gasoline and kerosene, but that's another story).

So, where does this leave us? I think it leaves me in the same place as Amada did: the food is definitely interesting - although I cannot speak for its authenticity, since basque tradition is unfortunately out of my scope of knowledge - with some points of excellence that will defintely make me think about going back. The service, however, which was not the opening-night uncertainty but more deeply problematic - and the noise level, were such that it will take at the very least a long while before I darken Tinto's doorway again, which is probably a shame. I am fairly certain it will manage to be successful despite this, given other experiences in the city, because the food and the scene should be able to carry it through. Not for me, though.

For reference, here is a link to the menu, courtesy of foobooz: http://foobooz.com/2007/03/tinto-menu-unveiled

While not exact, it is substantially equivalent to that actually being served, down to the fold-in-half-then-in-three pattern. One notable difference is the lack of the chefs' tasting, substitued by a specialty which I unfortunately do not recall.

Edited by lfabio2007 (log)
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Fabio Welcome to e-gullet.

Rule number 1.

Use the thread that was started already to discuss a restaurant, I am not chastising you but it gets confusing when there is more than one thread about the same restaurant.

A quick topic search can find the old tinto thread which was just started a week ago.

Hopefully Katie can consolidate both threads...

again.....welcome.

great post.

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I've been reading egullet for quite a while and I decided I'd come out of lurking to contribute to the community. Here goes, then: unfortunately, my first contribution will not be glowing praise.

First of all, a bit of backstory. My girlfriend and I have been to Amada in mid-2006, we loved the food but the service and the ambient noise were bad enough to make sure that we would not return. Therefore, I was somewhat concerned when we made reservations for Tinto for yesterday night, Friday (which to the best of my knowledge was opening night).

We were lucky in that yesterday's weather helped to keep the crowd down: I was pleased, because I figured that this would temper the noise and service problems, if they were to surface. Unfortunately, that proved to be an optimistic estimate.

In order to allay any suspcion about an 87000-word untempered bashing, I have to state from the start that the food, in and of itself, was good to very good. There was good variety in the menu, the ingredients were, generally, very good (with some unfortunate faux passes, such as the belly tuna which was not as fresh as it could have been and the forgettable 'kobe' beef) and there was some very good display of technique, with some points of excellence (the goat milk mousse dessert was really remarkable both in composition and in execution).

The problem, unfortunately, is that a restaurant is not only about the food. And, again unfortunately, this new venture has precisely the same problems Amada does, with a twist.

First and foremost, it's trying too hard to be hip. Much, much too hard. The bistro table and chairs, half hip and half space necessity, are small and probably derive from some recently-discovered writing of that master of ergonomics, Torquemada.

The marble floor and mirrored walls (with cellar-wine-storage like wooden trellising in front) don't give the low, untreated ceiling any help in reducing the noise and the open kitchen at the back is not as successful as Osteria at keeping the kitchen smells out of the dining area. The result was a noise level that made it effectively impossible to hold a civilised conversation - with the dining room half empty. It must be positively stunning when it's completely full.

But the piece de resistance, that is the service: I must admit to having low tolerance for modest service and extremely low tolerance for modest service performed by a staff that is trying their utmost not to pay attention to what the patrons are actually asking. It is one of my many failings. This place, however, didn't require my heightened sensitivity to the matter to cause an almost invincible desire to have a nice, friendly chat with the manager to take over the mind of any patron within the first five minutes of permanence.

The server had clearly been instructed in how to approach customers: he was to make sure that wine was ordered (note that I say ordered, nothing more) and he was not to worry particularly about explaining the structure of the menu.

The gentleman executed with a precision worthy of the best assault teams in the military: he presented us with menus, asked what variety of water we'd like, went and returned with the water and then proceeded to ask us no less than five (5) times in a span of about six minutes if we'd made up our mind about our drinks, while we were persistently trying to wheedle out of him some clarity as to the items that composed the menu. On the third or fourth try he went beyond 'make sure to ask any questions you have' and disappearing, so we were able to confirm which varieties of food pertained to which box on the folded menu.

We proceeded to order a first flight of items (the place is a tapas or small plates establishment, so multiple items recommended), while telling him that we were still working on the menu, so drink orders would come in due time. A few minutes later we had decided on the rest, so we ordered a second series of items and two glasses of wine - white - which would serve, we thought, to stem the tide of requests from the waiter.

Naturally, we'd selected the items in a specific order which would allow us to have 'neutral'-appetizer items first, then fish items and finally the meat items and vegetables. This would also have enabled us to order a second flight of wine, red, to go with the meats. Naturally, this was completely ignored by our attending personage, who after so much effort in making sure beverages was ordered, was clearly too taxed to produce them in a timely fashion, so the two wine glasses appeared with the third or fourth item that was served and ordering the red - despite my request that the wine list stay at the table, completely ignored - took a significant amount of time and effort, only surpassed by the time and effort that it actually took to receive the red forementioned.

Thanks to such a display of timeliness, we got to enjoy the mixto of charcuterie (quite good, the duck breast, I think it is, is particularly recommended, so are the egg salad and the pickled guindillas), the boquerones (very good but overpowered by too much of the pickled hot pepper) and the higos con jamon (very good but again, the hamon/higos balance was off, with too much sweetness) completely devoid of wine. To follow, we had kobe beef montaditos - indifferent - and brochetas de cordero - lamb and eggplant skewers served in shot glasses filled with a bechamel base to replicate something not unlike a destructured moussaka, good even though the lamb was a touch on the chewy side - with a delightful muscat sec and a delightful sauvignon blanc and we finally received the two tempranillos - one corked, badly and neither of them remarkable - just in time to savor them over the marmitako de ventresca (which would have been excellent had the ventresca not been marginal, with the raw cubes of ventresca topping a potato-based clear soup with chunks of cooked ventresca in it) and the chipirones en su tinta (very good quality, here, making me believe that the ventresca may have been a fluke).

In order to help the wine a bit, we followed with some montaditos de panceta - one of the finest dishes of the evening, with the now-omnipresent pork belly wonderfully counterpointed by green apple - and the habas au gratin (not gratinados as per the menu on foobooz, but the preparation is the same, another strong point of the evening, with the fava beans and the sweet onions playing very well with the cheese gratin).

By this point my girlfriend recognised that the signs that lead to a march towards the owner or, failing that, the manager, were becoming difficult to contain. She suggested we wrap it up, so we ordered dessert, which I have to say helped my blood pressure considerably: the txokolami was a very good, innovative interpretation of the dish carried out with considerable technical skill (the chef elected to considerably reduce the bread 'white spots' in the dish to deliver a more concentrated chocolate punch, a choice helped by slicing the log thin and serving a small amount of it) but the standout, probably for the entire meal, was the goat cheese mouse [sic], excellently prepared with none of the gelatin bounciness that belies uncertainty in preparation and with an olive oil-caramel emulsion that managed to overcome my northern-italian-bred aversion for olive oil in anything but salads. There are few others who managed this, one of them in the local scene is Marc Vetri, again in a dessert (he, however, also gets redeeming points for using butter everyplace else, so I suspect I give him a head start. I also incidentally happen to think he's one of the finest chefs I have ever encountered, but that is a matter for another review).

Coffee was ordered and consumed, at this point the waiter seemed considerably better disposed towards us except for the detail that I had to tackle a busboy to obtain the check (which is something else that makes me want to experiment on the service staff with gasoline and kerosene, but that's another story).

So, where does this leave us? I think it leaves me in the same place as Amada did: the food is definitely interesting - although I cannot speak for its authenticity, since basque tradition is unfortunately out of my scope of knowledge - with some points of excellence that will defintely make me think about going back. The service, however, which was not the opening-night uncertainty but more deeply problematic - and the noise level, were such that it will take at the very least a long while before I darken Tinto's doorway again, which is probably a shame. I am fairly certain it will manage to be successful despite this, given other experiences in the city, because the food and the scene should be able to carry it through. Not for me, though.

For reference, here is a link to the menu, courtesy of foobooz: http://foobooz.com/2007/03/tinto-menu-unveiled

While not exact, it is substantially equivalent to that actually being served, down to the fold-in-half-then-in-three pattern. One notable difference is the lack of the chefs' tasting, substitued by a specialty which I unfortunately do not recall.

Jeez fabio, that must be the longest post ever.... :huh:

A few points service wise, going on day one usually results in these kinds of experiences, the servers probably have no clue yet.

Foodwise, Indeed your ealy report isnt encouraging, It disappoints me that the phrase "Kobe Beef" would be on the menu of a restaurant that is billed as a tapas bar, seems completely trendy.There is almost nothing Basque on that Foobooz menu. By Raw vetresca, do you mean that they have a raw tuna belly dish and is it similar in freshness to typical O-toro/Chu-toro experiences in japanese restaurants ?

Regarding tasting menus, there is no reason for a chefs tasting menu at a tapas restaurant, that is the point of tapas.

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Hopefully Katie can consolidate both threads...

Ask and ye shall receive.

So does anyone know if the nonsense reported in the Philly Weekly about Tinto being Reservations Only (even at the bar) is true?? Seems like an awfully difficult way to curry favor with new clientele if there's no possibility at all of simply walking in for a glass of wine and a bite.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Fabio Welcome to e-gullet.

Thanks for the welcome!

Actually Fabio is my last name :) Luigi is my first name.

Rule number 1.

Use the thread that was started already to discuss a restaurant, I am not chastising you but it gets confusing when there is more than one thread about the same restaurant.

A quick topic search can find the old tinto thread which was just started a week ago.

Hopefully Katie can consolidate both threads...

You're absolutely correct and I apologise: I was even intending to do so, then I didn't see the thread when I posted and opened another one.

again.....welcome.

great post.

Thank you sir, glad it's appreciated. I was a little concerned about opening with a negative review, but that's that.

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Jeez fabio, that must be the longest post ever.... :huh:

I'll try to be more succint from here onwards.

A few points service wise, going on day one usually results in these kinds of experiences, the servers probably have no clue yet.

That is indubitably true, but this felt a little different than the usual 'day one' pains. At least to me.

Foodwise, Indeed your ealy report isnt encouraging, It disappoints me that the phrase "Kobe Beef" would be on the menu of a restaurant that is billed as a tapas bar, seems completely trendy.There is almost nothing Basque on that Foobooz menu. By Raw vetresca, do you mean that they have a raw tuna belly dish and is it similar in freshness to typical O-toro/Chu-toro experiences in japanese restaurants ?

Mind, the food had some good - even very good - sides, but yes, there were some things that perplexed me.

As to the raw ventresca, yes, there were cubes of raw tuna belly (three, to be precise) on a skewer on top of a small potato-soup bowl. The soup was made with chunks of (cooked) ventresca in it, so the combo might have been interesting.. but as I wrote, the ventresca was ... not similar in freshness, shall we say, to the typical japanese restaurant serving. Not inedible, but not ideal, either.

Regarding tasting menus, there is no reason for a chefs tasting menu at a tapas restaurant, that is the point of tapas.

I agree, but it is on the menu at Foobooz, I was just reporting that. I suppose the case could be made for the chef wanting to show a specific selection around a theme, but that kind of seems weak reasoning.

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Ask and ye shall receive.

So does anyone know if the nonsense reported in the Philly Weekly about Tinto being Reservations Only (even at the bar) is true??  Seems like an awfully difficult way to curry favor with new clientele if there's no possibility at all of simply walking in for a glass of wine and a bite.

Thanks for correcting my oversight. From what I could tell, at least, not everyone there on friday seemed to have a reservation. But I didn't ask specifically.

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Mind, the food had some good - even very good - sides, but yes, there were some things that perplexed me.

As to the raw ventresca, yes, there were cubes of raw tuna belly (three, to be precise) on a skewer on top of a small potato-soup bowl. The soup was made with chunks of (cooked) ventresca in it, so the combo might have been interesting.. but as I wrote, the ventresca was ... not similar in freshness, shall we say, to the typical japanese restaurant serving. Not inedible, but not ideal, either.

The dish sounds interesting but Toro is very perishable, that being said there still is no excuse for sketchy fish.

"Tapas" restaurants basically get a "get out of jail free card" and the evolution of the public's perception of Tinto will be interesting.

For example say a place like Tria or Tinto serves completely commercial cured meats while Osteria cures it's own which by the way is a thousand times better. I wonder if people realise that quality/flavor/price relationship........

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lfabio - Welcome to eGullet and the Pa forum! Happy to have you join us. I hope all your future posts are as insightful and detailed as your first.

Looking forward to hearing more from you... :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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So does anyone know if the nonsense reported in the Philly Weekly about Tinto being Reservations Only (even at the bar) is true??  Seems like an awfully difficult way to curry favor with new clientele if there's no possibility at all of simply walking in for a glass of wine and a bite.

There was a report on Phillyblog that seemed to suggest that the bar was reservation-only.

__Jason

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Seriously?

How does that work exactly?

My understanding, from that and from Klein, was that the bar is being treated as just an alternative dining space. I'm of two minds about that: on the one hand, it seems awfully... well, controlling, hidebound, whatever. On the other, it may reduce the chaos that often plagues some of the Hot New Places.

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as i reported elsewhere there was a 50-60 minute wait at tria last week. and that included bar seats. so i guess someone's keeping track of things in such a way that they could have bar reservations as well as seating charts...

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Just a quick note - don't want to beat this thing to death, but my girlfriend and I tried to stop in tonight at 5:30 without reservations, for a quick drink and maybe a small sampling of the menu. The restaurant and bar were empty. The hostess told us that the bar was reservation only. As we started to walk out, another staff member told us that he could seat us at a table. We felt bad about taking up a table and left.

The bar situation is interesting - this was our first time inside and it seems like the bar area is so tight that they really wouldn't be able to handle any walk-ins on top of those already seated at the bar. If there were people standing and drinking, they would totally clog the egress towards the main dining room. That said, to turn someone away from an empty bar because of a hard and fast policy also seems to not be the best way to go about things. Again, I chock this up to newness - hopefully they'll figure all of this out soon...

Exceptional food + wine tours of Sicily & Puglia.

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Blogging at: Getting Lost in Sicily

"At the table, you forget your troubles."

- Sicilian proverb

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Just a quick note - don't want to beat this thing to death, but my girlfriend and I tried to stop in tonight at 5:30 without reservations, for a quick drink and maybe a small sampling of the menu.  The restaurant and bar were empty.  The hostess told us that the bar was reservation only.  As we started to walk out, another staff member told us that he could seat us at a table.  We felt bad about taking up a table and left.

The bar situation is interesting - this was our first time inside and it seems like the bar area is so tight that they really wouldn't be able to handle any walk-ins on top of those already seated at the bar.  If there were people standing and drinking, they would totally clog the egress towards the main dining room.  That said, to turn someone away from an empty bar because of a hard and fast policy also seems to not be the best way to go about things.  Again, I chock this up to newness - hopefully they'll figure all of this out soon...

What would they have said if you had asked them, "OK, can we make a reservation at the bar for right now?" This is so silly...

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