Restaurant reviews

Pintura Basque Kitchen & Bar: Small plates, big ideas

The concept of small plates is big in Leeds at the moment. From new openings Polpo, Iberica and Mr Nobody, to established tapas destinations like Azucar, it’s clear that the trend for sharing is here to stay in the Leeds foodie world.

Pintura has been keeping Leeds folk happy since first opening up just outside the Trinity entrance by M & S. Passionate head chef Greg Lewis invested serious time researching the Pintxos (literally ‘small snacks’) bars and restaurants in the Basque region of Spain and now the restaurant imports some of the tastiest Spanish ingredients to bring the best out of their seasonal British counterparts.


We were invited down on Easter Sunday to review their food and to see what exactly it is that sets them apart from the competition in Leeds.

Let’s be clear right from the start, just in case you’re visiting Pintura and need to know the essentials without reading the full review: the ‘Onglet’ dish and the ‘Torrijas’ offering (their take on bread and butter pudding) are two of the nicest dishes we’ve eaten all year.

The steak, served delightfully pink in the middle alongside an iberico-fat potato and delicious tarragon mayo was cooked to meaty perfection. It was melt in the mouth and represented the sort of quality that you expect from serious steak houses in Leeds like Gaucho. For around £7, the price point was seriously good value. I mean, come on, just look at this:

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The ‘Torrijas’, meanwhile, was gloriously decadent. A warming and moist brioche brought to life unexpectedly by espresso syrup, this was a significant step up from the sort of dessert you might expect from a restaurant that primarily prides itself on its savoury offerings.

We opted to share this pudding – having to split the brioche is my one regret from the meal experience!

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Those were certainly the highlights of our meal, but shout outs must also go to the little garlicky delights of the tomato and garlic bread, perfect introductions to the meal ahead and ideal bar snacks for those not wanting a full meal.

We also sampled the bitesize pork cheek pintxos, but it couldn’t compete with the full on flavours of the toasted garlic bread.

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The main menu also boasted pork ribs in PX glaze, which we couldn’t resist ordering. The ribs were meaty, the sauce almost caramelised on the outside and the overall impact was finger licking-good. They came piled high with crispy potato, which added a new texture to the dish.

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Moving away from meat, we also sampled the fried cod cheek, an unusual fish item on the menu and one which we loved. The cod itself was meaty and substantial, the batter kept light to allow the fish to shine. Served with fresh alioli, it was a fish dish to shout about.

We thought it wise to also try a special and so went for the suckling pig. This was a special dish fit for an Easter Sunday meal; the pork was cooked nicely and went down a treat.

Pintura is suitable for a whole range of diners, from couples like us with a baby, to groups of friends out for brunch and a cocktail, to family groups spanning the generations (one such group sat on the table across from us). The interior is cool, atmospheric and perfect for a weekend meal in town. They also do fantastic drinks, in particular a wide range of different gins (the Spanish aren’t just all about sangria you know).

Pintura may do “small plates” but they are big in class, big in presentation, and big in flavour. We’ll be back!

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