Drawing inspiration from the traditional Basque region of Northern Spain, stepping into the newly opened Pintura immediately transports you away from a chilly Leeds evening to somewhere far more exotic. From the moment you settle down along one of the three bars, every moment is a reassertion of the laid back Basque culture, with the staff keen to share their captivating anecdotes about the delights of the northern region.
The restaurant has been carefully designed to make every customer feel comfortable and a part of the Pintura family. Guests are given seats along the bar where they are able to watch in awe as chef and bar staff simultaneously serve up their masterpieces. Sitting so close means that you can easily engage in conversation with the chefs who know everything there is to know about their dishes; intimacy is clearly the priority here.
Based on a concept similar to tapas, the menu offers an immense selection of delicacies and we were treated to a varied selection of the head chef Greg Lewis’ favourites. From a traditional Spanish omelette, to a selection of their finest cured meats, to a tuna steak nicely garnished and served in a chic can, every dish was a delight and we couldn’t finish quickly enough. The menu balances the traditional with the innovative, as we discovered when the chef placed a cut of pork cheek in front of us. A new discovery for the both of us, it was surprisingly delicious. Here the tapas-style arrangement really works; you can trial these more adventurous dishes but fall back on the tasty cheese croquets if it all goes wrong.
After our main course(s) we were given two desserts to share. Having looked at the menu beforehand, we had been firmly recommended to try their chocolate mousse and it arrived in all its glory, presented in a clay flower pot and decorated with crumbled biscuits and edible flowers. It tasted even more fantastic and we gorged ourselves silly.
Venturing down to the basement leads you to the stylishly decorated bar, this one dedicated entirely to your alcohol needs. Sold as a gin bar, it is understandable the drinks menu is full of a variety of gin and tonics, and gin cocktails, all of which look delicious. They use Portobello Road Gin, the same as Jakes Bar on Call Lane, and you can tell they know how to use it. For those of you who don’t get the gin hype, the bar also has a selection of cocktails invented especially for Pintura. We got to sample their Lemon Torte Cava cocktail and it was divine!
It is fair to say that this is a special place that is sure to do well. The prices are reasonable, with dishes starting from £3 and increasing depending on ingredients and size. Six savoury dishes are plenty for two people, even without the dessert. The drinks are also affordable, with the majority of cocktails priced at just less than £8. This affordability, combined with its upmarket feel, make it the perfect place for a birthday or graduation meal.
The welcoming friendliness of the staff, the laidback atmosphere and the delicious food mean that it’s easy to pass many hours in Pintura without even realising. Sipping on cocktails while watching the head chef whip up a Spanish omelette before your eyes; it’s not an experience you can readily get in Leeds, but one you should definitely try.