The team behind Brighton's Pintxo People have taken the concept to Shoreditch in East London
Bohemian Brighton is less than an hour's train ride from the Capital's vibrant restaurants, yet ‘London on Sea' can seem a culinary desert unless you're willing to wade through the bog-standard eateries, and eat-as-much-as-you-like joints.
No wonder when Pintxo People opened in Brighton, early 2006, there was a buzz of anticipation among sophisticated diners who'd heard a good restaurant had hit town. With whisperings of el Bulli infl uences and dishes such as Picked Rabbit Gayoza with Mustard Ice Cream on the menu, many even wondered whether it was too cutting edge for the town.
Described as a slice of North Eastern Spain in Brighton, the brains behind the operation was Jason Fendick, co-founder of the Gorgeous Group, which has a track record for helping set up lauded London bars including Apartment 195, Hakkasan, Zeta and Rockwell. Within a year, Observer Food Monthly readers had voted it ‘Best Place to Drink in the UK 2007', it won ‘Best New Bar 2006' at the CLASS Bar Awards, and the Independent on Sunday critic Terry Durack included it in his ‘Top Unforgettable dishes of 2006'.
Now the team behind Pintxo are getting their horns stuck into a new outpost – Pinchito Tapas in Featherstone Street, Shoreditch, East London. If you're expecting an exact repeat of the Brighton formula, forget it. Open 8am until 1am weekdays, and 6pm to 1am Saturdays, this is an informal place (Pinchito is Basque for little snacks)
to grab breakfast, buy a take-out lunch to munch at your desk, meet your mates for drinks, and order tapas to ensure you're not too squiffy on the way home.
It looks different too. Whereas the Brighton venture is over two fl oors – a rustic looking deli and informal tapas bar downstairs, and upstairs a glittering martini bar and roomy fi nedining restaurant – Featherstone Street is small and urban-looking.
It's got an open-plan industrial bar/ kitchen, is adorned with reportagestyle photos of Barcelona, and has interior breeze block walls, which feels reminiscent of being in garage.
What is the same, however, is the team behind the operation and their focus on top quality Spanish cuisine.
Along with Fendick, the partners are Emily Wheldon who looks after PR and Marketing, General Manager Bruce Bartholomew, Bar Manager Tobias Blazquez-Garcia, Manager Valeria Fossatti and Executive Chef Miguel Jessen. They'll divide their time between Brighton and Shoreditch to look after Pinchito which has 80 covers (50 seated and 30 standing). Dishes are all tapas, and fall into the affordable £4.00- £5.00 range – signature dishes include Pulpo (octopus served on a bed of chorizo potatoes), classic Spanish soups including Gazpacho (chilled tomato and garlic), Aljo Blanco (chilled almond and garlic)
and Churros con chocolate (Spanish donut style pastry served with thick hot chocolate for dipping).
The menu was created by Jessen, who has previously worked at the two Michelin-starred El Amparo restaurant in Madrid. Following on from the success of the Pintxo People cocktail bar, Blazquez-Garcia will continue offering fi ne sherries, Spanish wines and brandies, classic cocktails and seasonal Sangrias.
It's early days for Pinchito, but there are plans to open more sites – one more in London within the next 18 months, and another ideally in Brighton or Tunbridge Wells. "Watch this space," says Fendick.
Where? | 32 Featherstone Street, London EC1, 0207 4900 121 pintxopeople.co.uk