Pintura review: Does Leeds’ trendiest tapas joint deliver?
My experience of tapas whilst holidaying in Spain over the years has been underwhelming to say the least. Generic, bland and uninspiring, there’s not been a single time I’ve tried anything worth writing home about.
Not that I’m putting it out there that the Spanish can’t cook their own food, I’ve just not been fortunate enough to choose the right places or spend enough time there to know where I’m going. I’ve had some amazing meals in Spain, just not tapas.
The dishes I’ve had in Leeds on the other hand has been a very different story, with several excellent restaurants dotted in and around the city meaning you really don’t need to go to La Tasca (unless you enjoy microwaved slop of course) or book flights to Barcelona to enjoy some top Spanish grub.
Pintura arrived in Leeds earlier on this year (just to your right as you exit the back of Marks and Spencer) in a buzz of publicity, with many reliable sources bowled over by its brilliance.
After attending an event there and getting a little taste of what they could do, I could see this place was going places and so had been looking forward to returning for a full review to see if it lived up to the hype.
Whilst Leeds has got plenty of charms, it has never been the most aesthetically pleasing city, however, even from the outside, Pintura looks stunning with its full length glass windows and eye-catching signage – the inside is no different. Situated over three floors, it’s a relatively narrow restaurant but this helps create a lively atmosphere.
It was 10:30pm on a Friday when I arrived and still busy, but I imagine on a quieter day that it wouldn’t take many punters to create an atmosphere. Already a few pints down prior to arrival, we ordered a bottle of the Carpess Crianza Tempranillo Rioja (29.90), completely sucked in by its description ‘killer, deep red fruits and spicy notes’ – oh yes.
The food menu at Pintura is filled with tempting options, where many traditional dishes have been given a modern, Basque twist. As well as a wide-selection of nibbles, cold meats cheeses and tapas, there is an extensive selection of specials which changes daily.
We went for seven dishes in the end, which turned out to be more than enough for two on this occasion. One of the standout dishes had to be the Albondigas (4.95), which translates to Classic Spanish Meatballs, Tomato and Roast Chilli Sauce. Absolutely delicious and packed with bold flavours.
Similarly, the Chorizo Con Sidra (5.95) was a cut or two above your average sausage in cider dish and incredibly moreish. They arrive looking like breakfast bangers, but don’t jusge a book by its cover, they’re delicious. The Gambas Pil Pil (7.95) or Tiger Prawns in Garlic and Olive Oil weren’t too bad, but by no means memorable and lacked the freshness of similar dishes I’ve had elsewhere.
The winning dish was one I’d had recommended to me by a friend; the Crispy Belly Bacon with Apple Puree aka Crujiente De Panceta (5.95). It was melt in your mouth tasty, with crisp skin and an abundance of rich flavours.
We also ordered the Lardo from the specials menu, which was recommended by our waitress who assured us it was divine, despite being a posh name for lard. It wasn’t – sometimes you should just follow your instinct as this was nothing more than the white, fatty part which is attached to Jamon or Parma ham. Not for me.
Now absolutely stuffed, we declined dessert, paid up and dropped downstairs to sample one the many fine brands on offer in the gin bar – a perfect way to end the night.
So Pintura delivers. The food is fantastic and the only major gripe on the night was an overly pushy waitress who became somewhat miffed when we refused to purchase bread, olives and additional dishes on three seperate occasions and the disappointing Lardo.
This is a welcome addition to the city and somewhere I’d recommend to catch up with mates or impress a date, whether you’re looking to dine or simply fancy some high-grade cocktails in swanky surroundings.
Rant and Rave rating: ****
Pintura Kitchen, Unit 3.26, Trinity, LS1 6AP.
Tel: 0113 4300 915