Restaurant Review: Roja Pinchos
Berry Street, Liverpool
Review by Natasha Young
There’s no need for decorative Spanish trinkets at Berry Street’s Roja Pinchos, which dons a minimalist rather than typical Mediterranean vibe inside. This is a restaurant which lets its menu provide the atmosphere and authenticity.
On its initial arrival to Liverpool’s burgeoning restaurant scene, the eatery was the first to bring the concept of pinchos – northern Spanish style tapas bites on sticks – to the city, and while this remains at the heart of its menu, Roja Pinchos has ventured into more familiar style tapas dishes too.
My dinner date and I were spoilt for choice as we perused the table menu, which listed a varied choice of hot pinchos and traditional tapas. And that was before our friendly waiter pointed out the cold, ready prepared pinchos which were available to pick from the bar too!
The way the concept works is that pinchos are priced at £3 if they come on large sticks, and £1.50 for short sticks. The sticks are counted to tot up the bill at the end.
We picked some drinks to whet our appetites as we decided on the all important food and, with Abajo – a gin and cava bar – open in the eatery’s basement on weekends, I had high hopes for the choice of gin.
The Gin Mare (£4.50), straight from a small fishing village on the Costa Dorada, provided the perfect start to a culinary trip to Spain as it was refreshingly served with tonic, thyme, lemon and juniper berries.
Sipping from the giant balloon glass, it wasn’t difficult to imagine the drink quenching my thirst at a pavement café or by the sea in the Mediterranean sun.
Meanwhile my partner settled on a small glass of Rioja ‘Centenario’ Crianza 2012 red wine (£6.30).
With our hearts set on a selection of hot dishes (pictured above), I chose the king prawn, chorizo Gallego and aioli; marinated chicken with crispy chorizo and curried mayonnaise; and the pork loin served with aioli and pistachio crumb.
My partner was steering clear of meat but still had plenty to choose from, and went for sautéed wild mushrooms with a quail’s egg; warmed goat’s cheese, caramelised onion and sweet baby pear; and the sea bass fillet with spicy tomato pistou.
All six were hot pinchos priced £3 each and were praised as good choices by the waiter, who was on hand to give recommendations.
We also added the Spanish staple, patatas bravas (£3) from the tapas menu, which offered reasonably priced small plates from £3 to £4.50.
Each of the pinchos were small but mighty; jam packed with flavour and fresh, authentic tasting ingredients.
The curried mayonnaise brought subtle spiciness to the chicken, while the aioli added a delicious garlicky kick to my other options.
My dinner date hailed his vegetarian pinchos – the mushrooms and goats cheese choices – as vibrant highlights with plenty going on in terms of flavour.
The patatas bravas’ tomato sauce was also a refreshing accompaniment, unlike some versions of the dish we’ve previously experienced with a ketchup-like drizzle.
For dessert my date couldn’t resist the Spanish classic, churros (£4.50).
Unable to choose between the chocolate or caramel sauce, he managed to wangle a taste of both and they worked perfectly alongside the hot and crunchy churros which were beautifully soft in the middle.
Never one to pass an opportunity to eat cheesecake, I went for Roja Pinchos’ tarta de queso (£4.50), which came with a smooth and creamy topping, littered with chocolate pieces.
The sweet finale was a delightful way to end an evening of great food in a cool and simple setting with plenty of atmosphere, and certainly softened the blow of our Spanish foodie adventure coming to an end.