Tapas with a warm iHola

A NEW Taperia Española has recently opened in Kingston with a warm iHola! Are you with me so far?

If not, here’s the rough translation. A new Spanish tapas bar with a warm hello.

Pan CaseroBut, wait, what about the meaning behind the name – Bodega de Pintxos? Easy. Bodega is a cellar of food and/or wine and pintxos is miniature dishes (individual bites of food).

It’s a fun journey through Spanish food and culture when you visit and the experience is designed around enjoying good conversation, wine and food.

Bodega de Pintxos used to be Lunico Ristorante, both owned by Joe Pelle, who also operates Joe’s Gelato Sweet Treats.

The décor features a massive display of wine bottles – more than 200. Sandy coloured brick walls and rich, earthy colours are predominant and some tables are created with wine casks (base) and thick wooden slabs (top). On my first visit, there was a fair bit of outdoor seating, but on my second, there wasn’t (don’t know what’s going on here).

The menu is divided into sections, including Pintxos ($4 each), Cazuelas, casserole-type dishes cooked in clay pots (mostly $24), and tapas (from $12 to $30 – but that’s for the highly coveted Jamon Iberico, thin slices of Spain’s famous ham, aged for 40 months).

You can’t go Spanish and not try Chorizo, which was a super kickstart for us. It wasn’t grisly, or fatty, but dense, loaded with great spices and yumbo in a red-wine jus and roasted-garlic sauce.

We stayed mostly with tapas and, although I was dying to try braised chicken liver, my dining partner turned up her nose ever so slightly, so I changed tack and ordered the Cochinillo, suckling pig roasted for 12 hours and served with balsamic escabeche (an age-old traditional Spanish sauce). The meat was to die for and we soaked up the sauce with fresh bread.

Pan Casero, Pulpo.Not wanting to get too “meat heavy” (actually, we wanted to but guilt got the better of us) we next chose Verdura Asada, tossed seasonal veggies served in a terracotta dish. It wasn’t super light, but we enjoyed it. And, for fun, we tried Piquillo from the Pintxos menu, lovely roasted baby bell pepper stuffed with mud crab meat and spicy escabeche. Next time, I’ll throw in a salad for good health.

The wine list features several excellent Spanish varieties, including a 2010 Anxo Albariño ($12 a glass).

For eight people or more you can ramp up the fun and have a Paella party ($45 a head) or a Tapas party ($39 a head), which you’ll no doubt want to wash down with a few jugs of Sangria ($26).

Bodega de Pintxos, no BYO, no split bills, 27 Kennedy Street, Kingston, call 6295 0777.

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