Tinos restaurant does not have what you might describe as easy-on-the eye kerb appeal.
Probably why I have somehow missed this gem of a restaurant in the heart of Preston for so long.
I only made the booking to review last minute after failing to get in somewhere else.
But there are clues from the outside that a great deal of love and attention has gone into the premises.
Window baskets filled to the brim with well-tended flowers spill out from the outside of the building, giving a clue to the meticulous attention to detail on the inside.
This restaurant has something else in its favour.
Not only is it’s Hill Street location in touching distance of the pubs, bars and shops of Preston’s central business district, it is right next to a city centre car park making for easy access for a meal out.
It’s also just a hop and a skip from the railway station, a five minute hoof from the bus station, and the University of Central Lancashire main campus.
Tinos describes itself, via its website as a family-run in the heart of Preston with tasteful contemporary decor.
Which is pretty much nailed on.
As we enter the restaurant , several minutes early, we are surprised by how large it is.
We were quickly ushered with a smile into a shiny, immaculate, welcome area with a glittering bar where we ordered ourselves a bottle of red from an informed, curated, menu with a number of different price=points and this is delivered to us at our plush sofa and our wine professionally poured.
Furnished with some leather bound menus, we then perused the a la carte menu, including a wide variety of specials.
The focus at Tinos is on traditionally cooked Italian dishes using fresh ingredients with plenty of fish dishes, particularly on the specials menu.
We enjoyed our glasses of red for a moment – we ordered an Italian (of course) Negroamaro ‘Cononico’ (£21.90) from Puglia which proved to a be a youthful rural, wine which was easy to drink and perfect alongside any manner of Italian dish.
Then we ordered our meals, opting for a shared garlic bread ‘Messicano’ with tomatoes, chillis and onions to share (£5.50), alongside starters of fresh vegetable soup with crusty bread (£5.90) and a Gamboroni Amalfitana which is King Prawns cooked in their shells with tomato, garlic basil and white wine (£8.50).
For mains we plumped for a medium-cooked fillet steak and pepper sauce with roasted new potatoes and vegetables, the sauce not actually listed on the menu but happily put together and coming in at around £24.
We also ordered PorkDiane, a pork fillet cooked with cream, brandy, mushrooms and shallots.
Next up we were ushered, along with our wine, into the cavernous main restaurant with windows gazing across Preston, which despite it’s size was a sea of beautifully laid-out white tables, creating plenty of cosy areas for a meal-for-two and space to accommodate large parties. Let’s just say I’ve put it on our Christmas do shortlist.
We were soon seated at the far end of the restaurant and we had plenty of food to keep us going.
The garlic bread came oven-fresh, delicious, spicy and thin pizza-sized, meaning we had to stop ourselves from consuming the lot if we were to have any appreciation for the rest.
My soup was absolutely delicious – the vegetables proved to be a potato-based possibly potato and leek type broth which was tasty and hot ( I hate lukewarm soup) and crusty bread I avoided in favour of my main course.
The King Prawns were also proclaimed a hit if a slightly messy challenge to navigate – aren’t they always – but that’s why they provided judicious wipes.
Next up, and just with the right speed, the main courses arrived.
My fillet steak was sizeable and just the right side of medium – I actually struggled to finish it all, which is unusual.
Served with roasted new potatoes and vegetables it was a decidedly substantial and delicious dish, my only criticism was a slighty singed serving of mange tout, but enjoyable nonetheless.
The Pork Diana (it is Diana, not Diane) was also proclaimed a hit.
Tinos is an Italian restaurant producing fresh dishes with love and care and a reliance on good food and service rather than novelties.
It’s large, so can often accommodate booking last-minute and offers a function room for parties – it would be interesting to see how they cater on a large scale.
From my experience, I would not write off Tinos from the kerbside.
Check out the website HERE