Head chef Greg Lewis at work on another moreish masterpiece.
JLife’s Laura Sefton was wined and dined at the launch of Pintura’s new summer menu. Here, she reveals the highlights…
I got to experience one of the best Tuesday evenings I’ve had in a while this week. I’d been invited to an exclusive pre-summer menu launch event at Pintura Basque Kitchen & Bar – the tapas-serving, gin cocktail-making haven tucked away from the main stretch off Commercial Street – and I was excited. Very excited.
This sleek, stylish restaurant forms part of Trinity Leeds and opened its doors in March 2015. Since then, it has built a reputation for serving up flavour-packed tapas dishes inspired and influenced by Spain’s Basque region. Pintura is Spanish for ‘work of art’, and head chef Greg Lewis and his team create exactly that.
However, I knew none of this before I trundled through town. I’d never been to the eatery before and all I knew was that I was about to join 11 other members of the local press and media at the Chef’s Counter for an exclusive preview of the new menu. Upon stepping through the giant glass doors, I was surprised by the staircase before me that led down to the bar area, where over 100 types of gin from around the globe are there for the sampling.
According to the friendly team member who greeted me, I was due to head upstairs to join my fellow guests. We walked past tables glowing beneath industrial-style lighting and ascended the staircase to meet the other diners, who were already sipping their gin cocktails filled with cucumber tonic and a sprinkling of Earl Grey tea.
Having forewarned the team that I’m vegetarian, I was pleasantly surprised when, as I indelicately perched on my high stool at the end of the long counter, I was greeted by Greg who told me that I was in for a treat, commenting that: “You deserve better than the usual, predictable veggie options of risotto or pasta.”
I decided I’d hold him to that…and I wasn’t disappointed! To begin, we were served warm fresh bread before the carnivores tucked into Portobello Gin-cured salmon with peas and capers. I, meanwhile, sampled ensalda de coliflor, a refreshing cauliflower dish with cannellini beans and moreish crumbly goats’ cheese.
Already impressed, I was giddy with excitement when Matt, one of the chefs, came over to me and explained that next up for me would be tortilla vasca, a deliciously oozy Basque-style runny omelette potato, caramelised onion and a punchy herb salad that really lifted the dish.
Next, as the meat-eater beside me ate his pastel de carne, which was beef cheek with summer truffle and whipped new potato (I tried the potato; it was deliciously smooth and creamy and a tiny bit addictive), I was in food heaven with my wnsalda de tomate. It was even better than the dishes I’d sampled when last in Spain. The heritage tomato was juicy and sweet, while the sweet kick from the xipster vinaigrette was pleasant on the palate.
Next, we were served a sweet sherry to accompany gâteau Basque. The cherries infused with brandy perfectly complemented the crème patisserie. As if that wasn’t enough, we were then given a rosquilla, an irresistible cinnamon doughnut packed with scrumptiously gooey house-made dule de leche – a decadent way to round off a fabulous evening.
I wondered, as I made my way back downstairs, if we could persuade the skilled team at Pintura to set up home delivery. Or work delivery. Any delivery service, really. Because this was food I could happily eat all over again – and I will. I may have dined on Pintura’s summer line-up two days ago, but I’m ready for my next dish.