Pintxo, (Basque name for tapas, pronounced as ‘Pincho’) the new and first for Gurgaon, predominantly Spanish cuisine restaurant has set shop in the fashionable Galleria market, DLF 4. A small but cosy place, with warm, no-nonsense interiors, Pintxo tries to stand out from the numerous other restaurants crowding the hip market with its provincial ambience and food offered as authentic as possible. The limited space has been put to efficient use but privacy suffers, as the tables are placed close. But then Pintxo is a place for friends, food and fun, not for corporate confabulations.
Chef Sushmit Daniels readily comes to the table to explain the menu, which is available, both as a card and is also written on the glass paned window on the outside. The half curtain, the dim lighting, the Gypsy Kings on the iPod, the Joan Miro print on the wall all try to recreate a Hispanic ambience. Without hesitation, I ordered their Ham and Cheese Croquetas and the vegetarian Mushroom variant on both visits. While the first visit had me disappointed what with a perfectly done, lovely looking, and delicious tasting croquetas, served reheated after we pointed out that the inside of the croquets were still cold. But the second visit made ample amends. The Spanish Ham and Mozzarella- Manchego cheese combo was delicious while the mushroom one boasting of the mundane button mushroom, the hearty, nutty porcini and the woodsy, spongy shitake was sheer bliss. The restaurant thoughtfully serves eggless Aioli. Don’t forget to try the croquetas on your visit.
The Fried Calamaries served on a bed of Romeso and Alioli sauce were appetizing, while the FriedPrawns wrapped in Serrano ham were a bit too oily. A better take would have been to have the prawns grilled, wrapped in bacon, which is softer and wraps around the crustacean easily than the stiff and cured Serrano ham. The Gazpacho soup is another must try, the chilled Andalusian soup of fresh tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers spiked with garlic and onion, refreshingly tasty but for an excess of vinegar. A little less of the acidic condiment, and the soup would score 5 stars. On the other hand, the reassuring, pureed Hot Lentil soup teases your taste buds with a dash of strong goat cheese.
With the pintxos satisfactorily polished off we set our sights on the main course. The restaurant bowing to popular predilections offers some pasta and sandwiches too. The Chicken in the Canelloni was a little firm like that of a seekh kebab. A dollop of béchamel added to the mince would have rendered it faultless. Both the Baked Capsicum stuffed with Couscous on a bed of tomato-based sauce and the Eggplant Caviar were topped with panko crumbs and very little cheese. A melting mozzarella or a browned Emmenthal would have provided a clever counterpoint and raised the dishes to a superior level.
The Pork Belly Sandwich boasting of no specific Spanish antecedence nevertheless was a superlative dish. The moist filling comprising of fried pork belly, salad leaves, caramelized onion and tomato slices, flavoured with cinnamon, star anise, soy, garlic and 5 spices was simply fabulous. It was a messy but a must-try dish. While we tried the soft bread, the restaurant also has the option of a steamed one. The Trout in a crushed almond and wine reduction sauce and festooned with almond bits was average, its mild sweetness jousting with the salty Serrano ham promising interesting flavours but falling short, with much of its charm taken away by the bothersome bones clinging to the meat, tenaciously.
The well known and much loved Flan or Caramel custard was too sweet perhaps because of the caramel being dished over the already sweet custard instead of under it. But the must try dessert here is the Poached Pear with Vanilla ice cream. Sheer joy floats on syrup made of brown sugar, fresh vanilla pods and cinnamon.
The portions at Pintxo are sufficient enough to be shared as with Flan, Croqueta etc., and the pricing, competitive. For now, the restaurant serves non-alcoholic Sangria. The bane of all restaurateurs seems to be finding good wait staff and Pintxo is no exception. Service was inattentive, more due to lack of training rather than disregard. Table service was forgotten at times and changed only on request. Wherever and whenever needed however, the owner Rajeev himself pitched in, which is a common practice abroad but not in our country. One of my visits saw the restaurant full house with most patrons being expats from various Spanish-speaking regions of the globe. Pintxo has the concept right which has to be matched with execution. With a hands-on owner and a committed and receptive chef, I am sure Pintxo shall soon be celebrating la vida loca with the people of Gurgaon and beyond.
Disclosure: This review is done post two visits. Initially as an anonymous visit & later by an invitation from the restaurant.
Ratings (Out of 5):
Food: 3.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 2.5 | Overall: 3.5
Meal for two: Rs. 1000 (Without Alcohol) | Credit cards: Accepted | Alcohol: Not yet
Address: Pintxo, SF 90, I floor, Galleria Market, DLF 4, Gurgaon | Tel: + 91 9899856472