Lunchtime at the office. You’re repulsed by the idea of yet another soggy sandwich al-desko, but the boss is ready and waiting on your return counting the seconds that you’re late – no long, languid lunches for you. Under these circumstances a foodie feast might seem like mission impossible – but luckily the clever folks at Pintura are here to save the day.
They’ve just launched their new Comida Rapida menu (or fast food. Like most things it sounds better in Spanish). Get in, get ordering, and your food will arrive in a mere 15 minutes or less – guaranteed. Plenty of time to eat and stroll back to your desk long before your lunch hour is up.
The short time-frame doesn’t mean sacrificing quality – or quantity – either. You get two of Pintura’s award-winning tapas dishes and a side each – which might not sound like an awful lot but more than filled the hole in my stomach, even though I’d had no breakfast and was starving.
Between two we tried most of the dishes on the menu, and there was very little to disappoint. The Croquetas Con Queso were a cloud of cheesy delight, the crispy coating just containing the melting inside, which erupted to blissfully coat the inside of your mouth in just the right amount of manchego. The Arroz Con Calamares was a fragrant heaping of saffron rice topped with lightly battered rolls of cross-hatch scored squid, all very well executed and balanced, but we maybe could have done with slightly more squid for the amount of rice. Ensalada de Tomate was a burst of colourful freshness to accompany the more indulgent plates (I’m looking at you Patatas Bravas), vibrant jewel-like tomatoes and gentle black olives delicately dressed with tart herb vinaigrette – easy to overlook, but don’t.
Dishes come out as they’re ready, with our first – traditional Pan Con Tomate – arriving no more than 2 minutes(!) after we’d ordered, and our last, the Chorizo Con Sidra, around 10 minutes after we ordered – well under their 15-minute target. As good as the lead up had been, they were saving the best for last. The Chorizo sausages in a cider shallot sauce had a nice snap to the skin, giving way to juicy marbled meat inside that paired excellently with the smooth but slightly tangy sauce. Though, and this may just be me, I was expecting bigger chunks of shallot to get a real punch of that sweet, cidery flavour, rather than the almost invisible (though taste-able) finely diced shallot pieces that came. It was still delicious, but bigger chunks of shallot would have been a great vessel for the sauce, and would have given another texture to the plate.
All that said, it’s Pintura – I knew it was going to taste good. I’ve never been for a bad meal there so the real test was, could I do it on my lunch break and still rush back in time for a meeting? Comfortably. We were in and out in just under an hour, and it only took that long because we dithered extensively over the drinks menu, sipped a coffee at the end, and I was faffing about taking pictures. Without all that we could have easily been in and out in half an hour flat, with a nice good quality warm-food-belly feeling that no sad toastie or pot of soup from a coffee shop could ever provide. Oh, and did I mention it’s only £9.95 per person…?