Bilbao Express

Have you heard about the lunch deals at Jose Garces’ restaurants? Amada’s $12.50 Catalan Express buys a soup, salad or sandwich, and non-alcoholic beverage, while at Tinto, where we ducked into recently, the Bilbao Express includes a soup or salad, sandwich, and non-alcoholic beverage for $14.99. The Rittenhouse power brokers crowding the tight first floor suggested that even CEOs don’t mind saving a few bucks. Chestnut soup was the perfect anti-freeze, warming us to the fingertips with its lush, creamy consistency, hiding tender shreds of duck and a shower of crunchy pistachios. A judicious drizzle was the only time we’ve seen the truffle oil used for good rather than evil. To follow up, Tinto’s riff on the cheesesteak was a crusty baguette stuffed with frisée and charred sliced of skirt steak loaded so generously the beef kept slipping out the sides of the roll. A non-alcoholic drink was included, but we don’t do non-alcoholic all that well. A bottle of Dogfish Head 60 Minute worked just fine, bringing our total bill to $22 with tax. Portions are full (rather than tapas) sized, and on the regular menu, that soup goes for $12, almost as much as the entire Bilbao Express. While eating we gleaned a few tidbits about the Tinto expansion from the bartender: (1) the new and improved Tinto should be open in three weeks; (2) the chef station on the far left end of the bar will be relocated the space next door, freeing up more seats for drinkers; (3) the hostess station will also be moved next door; (4) guests will enter Tinto through the new building, not the current entrance; (5) the spaces will be connected via a walkway in the basement-level dining rooms. Secret passages, hidden entrances, sounds like fun. Bartender also mentioned that Mr. Garces had just been in the day before. Allegedly he’s been in his hometown of Chicago a lot lately, getting things together at Mercat, but fear not, Philadelphians. Chilango’s coming up in the spring.

Photo: Worldly Info

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