Just over a year ago we swapped Clerkenwell and its myriad of destination restaurants for West Hampstead and its neighbourhood coffee shops. Looking back fondly on our EC2 days, we often rue the nights spent eating in rather than out sampling local delicacies. And a trip back to the old ‘hood compounded the feeling, when we discovered a Tapas institution only five minutes walk from our old flat. Pinchito: how had we missed it?
Pinchito is Clerkenwell meets Shoreditch, exposed brickwork and dim lighting provide some East London urban cool, but doesn’t leave Clerkenwell’s less cool professionals feeling totally out of place. It’s buzzy, fun, not somewhere to dress up for: an ideal neighbourhood restaurant. It’s worth booking at weekends as it fills up quickly.
We ordered as many dishes as we could fit on our small, wobbly table – deep fried squid, patatas bravas, asparagus with artichokes, meat balls with green olive sauce, and tomato bread. The squid was flavoursome and moreish and not at all tough. Patatas bravas were only average, marred by a heavy hand with the garlic. Asparagus with artichoke, served cold, was disappointingly insipid and very wet. This was the only dish not to be speedily polished off by three hungry diners. The meatballs with green olive sauce was the star of the show; fantastically tender, juicy and tasty. We had five empty plates and three not quite replete tummys. Time for a second viewing of the menu.
Round two was chicken in pedro ximinez sauce, date, hazelnut and bacon skewers, chicken skewers and huevos rotas (fries, eggs and chorizo). Chicken skewers were on the dry side and the fries were bland, but the other dishes delivered the oily, moreish hit of high calorie flavour that tapas is known for.
Pinchito isn’t bargain basement, but with prices averaging £6 a dish, it undercuts tapas favourite Barrafina by a pound or two, so if you find yourself on that side of town and need a hit of Espana, steer clear of Meson Los Barilles on the Goswell Road and head for Pinchito.
Pinchito, 32 Featherstone Street, London, EC1Y 8QX
Overall score: 7/10
Mummy friendly score: hmmm, space is limited so I don’t think a buggy would go down well. This is the domain of the childless urban cool, or those with babysitters.
Gastrodad score: 7/10
Cost of meal for 3 adults including sangria: £106