The brains behind popular steakhouses Havana Grill and Little Havana recently opened Pintxada (pronounced ‘pinchada’), a Spanish tapas spot in vibey Umhlanga Village. Located directly below sibling restaurant Little Havana in Grenada Square, it has all the makings of a festive season hotspot. Nikita Buxton heads to the sunny shores of Umhlanga to get her first taste.
Average main course: R45 (tapas portions) R150 (main portions)
Serves: tapas, charcuterie, rotisserie
Best for: A dinner with friends or lazy weekend lunch with the family
Parking: Umhlanga Village is a busy spot, try get there early to nab a parking in one of the surrounding parking lots or take a taxi.
Star ratings: Food: 5, Service: 4, Ambience: 4
The Spanish-inspired fare is served as pintxos (the Basque take on tapas), which means that it’s all about sharing and sampling as much as you can off the menu, which changes weekly. The risotto is a good option for vegetarians with flavour combinations that vary each week. When we visit it’s a gloriously glossy bowl of perfectly cooked onion risotto. It’s creamy and fragrant with stringy parmesan wrapped around each mouthful, and with a topping of caramelised onion petals adding a sweet, richness. The crouquetas (three to a portion) are filled with chicken and mushroom and have a great golden coating with a satisfying crunch. A few slices of spicy chorizo are served on top to add an extra salty bite and a small bowl of spicy aioli is there for dunking. The albondigas (meatballs) are a real winner. They’re served with a glazing of stroganoff sauce on a Swiss sweet potato rosti, which works brilliantly with the rich flavours. The patatas bravas – tiny golden cubes served up with the aioli and a spicier chilli dip – make a great side.
There is also a small mains selection with a few more substantial dishes. This includes the roasted chicken, which is cooked on site in a gleaming rotisserie oven that greets you as you enter the restaurant. The golden roasted chicken is served as either a half or whole chicken to share with the table with a side of root veg. If you’re planning to try the chicken, make sure you order early as they can take up to 30 minutes to roast.
For dessert, we forgo the slightly healthier option of sorbet and dive straight in for the churros, Catalunya brûlée and lemon posset. All three are pretty faultless: the churros are crunchy and hot with dark chocolate and creamy ice cream to dunk, the brûlée creamy with a brilliant golden topping, and the lemon posset perfectly tart and silky with pops of fresh blueberries.
There is a concise but well thought-out wine list with some very reasonable options by the glass. Craft beer is also available on tap and there are some enticing-sounding ‘after-dessert’ sippers on offer.
The space has a modern-retro feel about it with quirky tiles, low-hanging lights and wood accents. There is an expensive air to the place – marble tables are surrounded by grape-coloured leather chairs, their rich purple hues complemented with pops of mustard, copper and gold. The interior lighting is quite dark, especially near the leather booth seating area, but would make for a romantic setting at night. Alternatively, nab a spot on the covered patio for a lazy lunch.
Friendly and informative. Our waiter was all smiles and offered a taster for the wines served by the glass – a nice touch.
The golden rotisserie chickens can also be pre-ordered as a takeaway for those Sunday lunches when you don’t feel like cooking.