Pinchito Tapas (one of two London branches) sits on an unpromising, scruffy street, a stone's throw from Old Street underground, not exactly asking to be found. But with a relatively healthy reputation online, and the decent Brighton-based Pinxto People as founders, I thought we had little to fear.
Our night got off to a bad start, with a confusion over the booking, and a long wait for a table, but a decent Old Fashioned helped soothe the nerves. It was a Saturday night and the bar was heaving with wannabe Shoreditchers.
Service was laughably crap. We were harassed into ordering the moment the menu arrived, and were attended to by three different waitresses, who were so hurried that our food was literally slam-dunked onto the table without a word.
I can't describe the food in detail, because there was no detail to describe. Absolutely everything - tortilla, pork, calamari, baked chorizo, patatas bravas - was heavy and smothered in, or drowning in grease. I suspect underneath all the butter and oil were some half decent ingredients (the boquerones and chorizo were nice enough), but our experience doesn't compel me to praise them for their sourcing. I'd rather send an appeal to the chefs to be less heavy handed, and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
A special mention must go to the 'pork and mango'. It was horrid. The pork belly fat hadn't rendered properly, and the 'mango' was a slick of greasy sweet orange sauce smeared over the plate.
They claim to offer Basque pintxos, but these cumbersome platefuls bear no resemblance. For a far superior and satisfying experience, head to Barrafina, Moro's bar, Morito (next door to Moro), Salt Yard, Dehesa, or Jose.
Our meal cost around £30 a head (incl. drinks).