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.
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.
One of my most recommended restaurants is Little Havana, in Grenada Square. They aren’t cheap, but they’re also not over the top expensive, and the food is incredible. But that’s more of a dinner place for me.
Thankfully, for lunch, just downstairs from Little Havana, they have opened up a sister restaurant called Pintxada, pronounced *pinchada*. Not to be confused with a piñata, pronounced *pinyada*. They won’t be impressed if you walk in blindfolded and start smashing a baseball bat against everything to see what treats fall out. The name comes from the Northern Spanish word Pintxo, which is a small snack typically eaten in bars i.e. tapas. In addition to that, they also showcase award winning wines, Jack Black on tap, super refreshing sparkling wine spritzers and a rotisserie. If you want to know how to pronounce that, you can check with Suzelle at the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wq6H3gIdDQ
Think smart Camps Bay bar meets relaxed Durban style.
On New Years day when most people were still too hung over from the night before, some made their way down to Chartwell Drive in search of somewhere celebratory to chow and cool down. That was us. Remo’s closed. Vovo Telo closed. Pintxada open! We had heard good things and hey, if it’s related to Little Havana, we knew we would be impressed! It was packed when we arrived and we feared having to wait in the scorching sun for a table as most people looked like they were setting up camp for the afternoon and the better part of the evening. The hostess greeted us while we took in the delightful smells and sights of a chef cutting up freshly roasted rotisserie chicken right at the entrance. That’s one way to draw the crowds in! We were escorted to the bar slash tapas area where we got to watch all the dishes being plated and leaving the kitchen, and where we could scrutinize the various types of olives and artichokes and cured meats on show. We ordered two cocktails with berry-like flavours mixed with a white wine spritzer while we perused the menu, the specials board and waited for a table outside.
Once we were seated outside in the sun, with thankfully just enough shade, we enjoyed our drinks and ordered the following (excuse the lack of precise dish names as I cannot for the life of me find any menus online): Home cured Salmon with cucumber dill & mustard R65 off the specials board; cajun grilled calamari & fried chorizo with pickling onions, tomatoes & a delicious hot sauce; and crispy pork belly. Wow! I’ve never had such a delicious combination of Tapas before. That dill and cucumber mustardy mayo was the perfect tangy accompaniment for the very lightly cured and ‘fresh as they come’ salmon chunks and slices. Followed by the richness and intense flavour of the calamari & chorizo dish, and the perfect crunchiness of that pork belly crackling (spot the free chip we scored in the pics), this was just what we were looking for.
So grab some mates, book a big table under an umbrella outside for lunch, order some beers, wines and cocktails and order 1 of every Pintxo you can get your hands on. Then pass them around and spread the Spanish love. Buen Provecho!