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Tinto For Two

My visit to Tinto Taperia wasn’t intended to be a date night blog, and it didn’t turn into that either. But something about it, coupled with Valentine’s Day approaching like a speeding arrow flung from a trigger happy cherub, has left that distinct flavour in my mind.

A wide exterior photograph of Tinto Taperia Brighton with a cyclist out of focus riding past the building along the path. There's green paintwork on the building and a flower bed around the terrace.

I’d been asked to cover the modern Spanish restaurant’s vegan offering. My date-not-date was the very wonderful Torsten, who has previously covered Tinto’s more omnivorous fare in his Tinto Taperia: tasty tapas theatrics blog. We met first for a quick catch up and chanced upon some friends who told us: a) their first date was at Tinto Taperia, and b) they’re now engaged (shrill squeals all round and outfit planning). 

exterior shot of the dining area at the Tinto Taperia, read seating and painting gs on the wall with the dim lights

Tinto Taperia really is a date-night gem. Situated on New Road, it’s near the Theatre Royal, The Dome and Corn Exchange. It’s the younger sister venue to Bar Valentino located just upstairs. Bar Valentino is a jewel of a cocktail bar which has served the city well, and relatively secretly, for many years (and I know of at least a small handful of romances that were sparked there, too). 

Interior shot of the Bar Valentino in Brighton

So, in a very small amount of space you have all the ingredients for a memorable night.

Let’s talk about ingredients

Tapas, for most, will conjure thoughts of melt-in-the-mouth cured meats and delectable cheese, and Tinto has these (see Torsten’s blog for details of chorizo paté with melted smoked cheese and serrano ham and Manchego cheese croquetas). But we were here for the plant menu, and this too, Tinto does exceptionally well. The key here is fresh quality ingredients prepared with expert understanding. 

spanish tapas meat and vegan options served at the brown table of Tinto Taperia restaurant. Vegan tapas experience blog

We started with cocktails and a selection of tapas. The cocktails benefit from the restaurant’s boozy big sister upstairs, so you know they’re mixed perfectly. We shared three tapas to keep us going while our vegan paella was being prepared (this is a tactical move, paella can incur a 40 minute waiting time, since it’s made fresh).

Papas Arrugadas, Canary Island salted new potatoes with Mojo Picon sauce. Vegan tapas experience blog

We tucked into Papas Arrugadas, Canary Island salted new potatoes with Mojo Picon sauce. Each potato delivered a salty-savoury taste bomb smothered in nutty-sweet creamy and rich sauce. This was complemented perfectly by the Espinacas a la Catalana, with generous amounts of earthy-irony spinach pan fried in good fruity olive oil, with plentiful amounts of garlic and topped with sweet pine nuts and a little hint of sour and sweet dried cranberries. 

A terracotta bowl of tapas with plates of tapas in the background. Vegan tapas experience blog

The Berenjena al Horno was more of a stand alone dish. Fried aubergines melted in the mouth with a sweet, smokey tomato sauce and lots more of that really good olive oil that added notes of plumb and juicy stoned fruit.

Torsten had this with the goat’s cheese on the side, where it would normally be baked on top.

Plant paella, done proper

As we picked and sipped, our server checked in on our progress. Paella is a dish in which timing is everything. This is a skill I hadn’t considered before and reflects something of the precision and expertise of both chef and table staff working in synergy.

vegan paella served in black pan and with different types of drinks. Vegan tapas experience blog

When we were ready, our cast iron dish laden with golden rice and issuing alluring aromas of paprika and saffron arrived. The rice was textbook al dente, plump and flavoursome with just a little bite. The vegetables were steamed in the paella rather than stewed. Crisp, they retained texture and flavour so that each mouthful was a unique combination unlocking the door to food happiness.

Evergreen Tinto Taperia

Vegan and vegetarian options are a permanent feature of the menu at Tinto Taperia. I think this is less to do with catering for our city’s plant-based stronghold and more to do with dishes that are plant-led being a staple of good Mediterranean cuisine. They’ve not gone down the meat alternative routes to create a ‘ficken paella’, nor subbed cheese and meat in their tapas. They’ve stuck with the roots of Spanish cooking which is in exceptional quality ingredients cooked with understanding and skill.

Want to know more about Tinto Taperia Brighton?
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Opening Hours

Monday 12:00pm9:30pm

Tuesday 12:00pm9:30pm

Wednesday 12:00pm9:30pm

Thursday 12:00pm9:30pm

Friday 12:00pm10:00pm

Saturday 12:00pm10:00pm

Sunday 12:00pm9:30pm