Pintura Basque Kitchen and Bar: Winter menu review
Pintura entered the competitive Leeds restaurant scene early in 2015, becoming an instant hit with punters with its bold twist on Basque style tapas. The fact that they also happen to have a rather awesome Gin Bar downstairs didn’t go unnoticed either, proving popular with the city’s booze connoisseurs.
Having eaten here on two previous occasions, I knew I was in for a treat when asked to drop in to try sample their winter menu. Split over three floors, Pintura is a handsome restaurant, with décor that nods to both traditional and contemporary Spain, just like its menu.
We headed straight downstairs whilst our table was prepared, to be greeted by a brilliantly bonkers Spanish barman who took us through a brief history of gin, as well as some highlights from the menu.
Now, when this joint first opened, they stocked around 20 premium gins, served in cocktails, straight up or on the rocks. They now have closer to 80, and have introduced six exotic Gin and Tonic Copas, which come served in large, 21oz goblets.
I was recommended the Ophir Gin with Fever-Tree Tonic (8.95), which came served with juniper berries, pink peppercorns and a cinnamon stick. It worked especially well with the peppercorns, which gave it a subtle spicy twist.
My companion went with The Botanist Gin with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic (8.95), which comes garnished with juniper berries and a sprig of mint. This was another excellent choice, and I must say the Copas are a welcome addition to what is surely one of Leeds finest drink lists.
And so onto the food. Now Forrest Gump once said something about life being like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.
I love that film, but he was wrong of course (Should have read the menu Forrest). Tapas, on the other hand, is a lot more like that, in that you’re not always sure what will arrive from what you ordered – even with a menu.
Thankfully for us, a little gut instinct, and assistance from our lovely waitress, meant that each of the six dishes we chose was a winner.
First up, the specials were top-notch. The Besigo Filete (5.95) consisted of red sea bream and Basque tomatoes, and was absolutely delicious.
Never one for risotto myself, however the Risotto de Jamon Iberico (6.50), which came topped with the most perfectly cooked poached egg I’ve ever tried, was amazing.
Steak lovers mustn’t miss out on the Onglet (6.95) from the main menu, which comes with iberico fat potatoes and a delicious tarragon mayo. The beef was lovely and rare and was a generous enough portion for two.
The Pollo A La Parrilla (5.95) was another tasty meat treat, consisting of grilled, corn fed chicken served with a tasty Romesco dip, which is a red pepper and nut based sauce.
The most impressive dish of the evening for myself was the Pluma Iberico (9.95), which includes a Pata Negra pork steak, and comes with a side-serving of kale, pancetta and pine nuts. My companion also liked this dish and thought it was a tad salty, which it was, however so tasty.
Kale can taste pretty awful raw or cooked the wrong way, but Pintura nailed theirs, and the pine nuts and pancetta added so much flavour.
To accompany the meal, I had a glass of the Don Jacob Rioja Reserva 2007 (8.50), which was another house recommendation, and a very good one at that. If you like rich, full-bodied reds, I can testify the quality of this wine.
As tempting the offer of dessert was, we had no room left (six dishes between two is spot-on), and so passed on this. Having been to Pintura a few times now, it’s nice to see they are listening to customer feedback and tweaking their food and drink menu to perfection. This was one of the best tapas meals I’ve had, hands down.