First things first: it’s pronounced ‘pin-chos’. I knew you were wondering. It’s a Basque word for a small snack, and the town of San Sebastien is famous for its pintxos bars, where you can spend all evening drinking wine and eating enough small snacks to make a huge feast. Sounds good right?
And now Bath is lucky enough to have its very own little piece of San Sebastien, Pintxos de Bath. Pintxos has a lovely relaxed vibe – think simple wooden tables, clay cups, brightly coloured tins labelled in Spanish for the cutlery and napkins – with some really cool, creative touches here and there, like the ceiling papered with sheets from El Ibérico, the Spanish-language newspaper, and the filament bulbs in industrial vintage cage fittings. It’s warm, friendly and buzzing – exactly the kind of place you could spend the whole evening.
|Gorgeous feasting food|
So what’s the food like? Well, dear reader, it’s gorgeous. Pintxos has only been open for two weeks and I’ve been three times already, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know. I’m making it my mission to try the entire menu, but here are my favourites so far… the spider crab and saffron croquetas, pillowy-soft in the middle and crispy on the outside, and served with aioli for dipping, are completely irresistible. The grilled lamb skewer with tximitxurri (work it out, pronounce the ‘tx’ the same as in Pintxos) was full of warm summer flavours. One of the specials (I’m hoping it will make regular appearances) was sweet pimento peppers on toast with a slice of melted manchego cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar – simple and delicious. It’s incredibly hard to pick a favourite, but I think it was the lentejas, by a whisker: a deep, smoky lentil stew swimming with chunks of rich chorizo.
|It may look humble, but this lentil stew was incredible|
There are plenty of your favourite classic tapas as well – gambas al ajillo, sweet firm-fleshed prawns cooked with chilli and garlic, crispy whitebait with lemon and garlic mayonnaise, patatas bravas and melt-in-the-mouth Spanish ham. All the bread comes from the Thoughtful Bread Co next door, so you could easily just nibble gorgeous fresh bread and aioli all evening. To wash it down, we chose a glass or two of txacoli, a unique Basque white wine – it has a slight spritz but not enough to make it a bubbly, and it seems to me there is nothing on the menu that it does not go with perfectly.
We were utterly stuffed, but you know how committed I am to trying the whole menu, so we had to order dessert. Pintxos doesn’t have a big dessert menu, but the chocolate and almond cake we chose was exquisite – served with Cornish vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon (an inspired touch) and a glass of Pedro Ximénez sherry. I have to confess that I’d always been a bit dismissive of sherry, associating it with tipsy grannies at Christmas, but of course Pintxos has a proper Spanish sherry menu – your granny’s tipple this ain’t. Pedro Ximénez is a gloriously dusky sweet sherry that tastes of the richest, darkest plum pudding and makes a sensational partner for chocolate. Definitely save some room for this combo.
|Chocolate & sherry: ultimate dream team|
The atmosphere is fabulous, the staff are lovely, and the small plates menu means that Pintxos de Bath can be seriously affordable too – you could manage a light meal and a glass of wine for around £10. They’re also about to open a beautiful courtyard garden, so you can really get that holiday vibe. Basically, there’s no reason not to go – and make sure you order the lentejas.