“ Address: East Kilbride Shopping Centre, Centre West / Tapas restaurant in East Kilbride „
Where I live the restaurants all tend to be a bit samey after a while. There are your typical Chinese and Indian restaurants, which I rarely visit these days due to a daughter who refuses to eat these cuisines, a steakhouse, a couple of pubs with carvery attached, fast food joints and some chain pubs.
I have always enjoyed Spanish food and it's one of the things that makes my holiday when I travel there. Not for me the egg and chip café - I'd far rather be in amongst the locals at a tapas bar. Tapas bars sell small portions of food - appetisers if you will - and while many locals will pop in for a drink and a snack, when I visit a tapas bar I tend to choose a small selection of dishes which I combine to make for a larger meal, and this does seem to be the way most tourists use tapas bars in Spain.
When a Tinto Tapas bar opened up in East Kilbride Shopping Centre I was intrigued and decided to pay it a visit. It made a change from the chips with everything places my daughter loves so it goes without saying I didn't go with her, but with my sister instead. My daughter, who is deeply unadventurous with food, has yet to visit but I have been many times now and I certainly visit at least once a month for lunch.
This is the second branch of Tinto Tapas, following on from their original tapas bar on the Battlefield Road in Glasgow's south side.
The tapas bar is located in the Food Gallery food court in the Centre West part of East Kilbride Shopping Centre. If you are coming to the shopping centre purely to visit Tinto then I would recommend you park at the Centre West car park, which is located close to the Debenhams department store. It does cost to park here except on Thursdays after 4pm and on Sundays.
I have only ever visited Tinto for lunch but they are open until midnight at weekends and once a month have so-called "Tapaoke" evenings where you can eat your tapas, have a drink and indulge in a little karaoke. I have yet to go to one of these evenings but they are popular enough for Tinto to advise you book a table if you want to attend.
The restaurant also offers food to take away but they do not do home delivery.
There are two things I love about Tinto - the first is how well the food is cooked and presented and the second is how all encompassing the menu is. Tinto do vary the menu dependent upon the season and as the evenings are starting to draw in, they have released their new winter menu.
So in addition to a large selection of tapas dishes which are all named in Spanish and have an English description beside them, they also offer more traditional fare such as lasagne, steak pie and salads. These dishes tend to be available as specials and I would recommend you always check the specials board before ordering, or as part of the £6.50 two course lunch special they offer.
The restaurant also serves burgers, which are all homemade, including a chorizo burger, and Pan Plano, which is a Spanish flat bread which looks very similar to a pizza. There is also a large, and very tempting, dessert menu.
I obviously cannot mention everything on the menu here and sadly the Tinto website is currently being refurbished so I can't point you in that direction either, but suffice to say there really is something for everyone - with the possible exception of my fussy daughter.
~~Interior and Service~~
I love the inside of Tinto because it's been designed to look like a traditional Spanish restaurant and as such I always feel I am sitting in a little piece of Spain when I visit. There are bull fighting posters adorning the walls, the beer on tap is Cruzcampo and the red seating all scream "Spain" to me. There is an outside area which looks out over the food court and this is less authentic. I always try to sit inside when I visit Tinto.
Service can vary but usually it's good. I've never had to wait for a table here but nor have I ever visited when it's deserted. You will be taken to your table, given menus and have the specials of the day explained to you before your drinks order is taken.
Sometimes you can have a bit of a wait before someone comes over to take your food order - I find it depends on the staff member dealing with your table. There are a couple of waiters who really are on the ball, courteous and engaging whereas some of the younger waitresses tend to be polite but not always efficient.
Overall I have been impressed with the service in Tinto and as me and my sister go so regularly now the staff have got to know us and remember us.
You can have 3 tapas for £6.95 from a large menu which includes fish, meat, chicken and vegetarian options. When I have tapas I tend to have a meat, fish and vegetarian option taking advantage of the 3 tapas for £6.95 offer. My favourite options are Langostinos, which are deep fried battered king prawns served with garlic mayonnaise. They have never let me down and I have to say the paprika batter is gorgeous. I also love the Pollo, which is chicken breast served with a chorizo sausage and Manchego cheese topping. I do wish there was perhaps just a little more chorizo but I have always enjoyed this tapas dish at Tinto.
Other tapas selections worth sampling include the Champinons con Queso although these seem to have been replaced for winter with Champinon al ajillo which is a tasty seasonal dish of winter mushroom with garlic cream sauce. I've also really enjoyed the Gambas pil pil, which are king prawns with chillies and garlic oil.
All the food is cooked fresh to order and you can see the chef and his staff working away at the back of the restaurant.
The tapas dishes used are all uniformly a brownish red and are invariably piping hot from the oven when brought to the table.
If you want something more substantial all on one plate, you can opt for the steak pie, which I have enjoyed twice. The meat is always deliciously tender and this is served with patatas bravas - or roast potatoes - which are cooked to perfection. My only criticism of the steak pie is the first time I got it it contained sausages, which is a bit of a Scottish tradition. The second time it was just steak and while it was still lovely, the sausages had really added to the dish first time round.
Prices are good. You can have three tapas dishes for £6.95. This is good value as they cost £3.00 each. The lunch menu offers two courses for £6.50 and you can choose between a starter and a main course or a main course and a dessert. I've sampled the Tostado - which is garlic toast served with cheese and tomato on this menu and also had ice cream as a dessert. The £6.50 menu also enables you to have the special dessert of the day.
The dessert menu, which I haven't sampled in depth at all, should cater to all tastes, with frappes, fruit and ice cream all featuring. One thing I have sampled which features in some of the desserts is the home made tablet. You get a small piece of this with your bill in Tinto, and it's absolutely gorgeous. I never mastered the art of making tablet - which for the non-Scots amongst you is a bit like fudge but not chewy - but whoever makes it for Tinto really knows how to do it.
My only quibble about the £6.50 two course meal is the menu erroneously states it is a "senior citizens menu" when it is in fact available to all. I do wish Tinto would amend their menus to show this because it's confusing as it stands.
There is an extensive drinks menu which includes soft drinks, draft beer, a huge array of wines and spirits. I invariably stick to a soft drink because I usually am driving when I come here.
I absolutely love Tinto Tapas and cannot recommend it highly enough. The quality of the food is brilliant with everything freshly cooked from scratch here. In a world where pubs offer cheap food to customers courtesy of a freezer and microwave, it's refreshing to find a restaurant which eschews this and employs a chef who is able to cope with dishes from burgers and lasagne to rabbit stew, chorizo sausage and squid.
The menu is so large and so varied you could easily dine here regularly and still find something new to try after many visits. I've dined here about a dozen times and have sampled less than a quarter of what Tinto Tapas have on their menu so there's no danger of you getting bored of the food here.
All food comes to the table piping hot and generally you don't have too long a wait for it either. On one occasion I waited 25 minutes but I was dining with a couple of friends and it was busy, so I didn't mind. The best way to deal with any wait is to remind tell yourself you are in Spain and it will be along "manana" - it works for me! If you want a hurried lunch then perhaps Tinto isn't going to be for you however.
The restaurant has a warm and friendly atmosphere, and while tables are generally quite small you don't feel cramped in here and there's no danger of you eavesdropping on someone else's conversation.
The restaurant is always spotlessly clean and waiting staff are swift to clear empty glasses and tableware away, but always ensure everything is finished with before doing so.
The service, ambience and top quality food is what brings me back here and I would say to anyone on a shopping trip to East Kilbride to seriously consider having lunch here. You won't be disappointed.
Tinto Tapas, Unit CL4, Centre West, East Kilbride, G74 1LL
Telephone 01355 221313
Monday to Wednesday
9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Thursday to Sunday
9.00 am to midnight