According to some publications Pintura is tipped to be one of the top places to eat Tapas in Leeds. Brought to you by the same people who brought Cielo Blanco (Jakes Bar and Oporto), it already holds a firm footing in Leeds' food and drink scenes. I really enjoyed Cielo Blanco. I love tapas. What could go wrong...?
I went to Pintura for their soft launch last Sunday, the food was 50% off if you booked ahead. Of course I booked, a new restaurant with 50% off food, why wouldn't I book!
Our booking was for 7.45pm on Sunday evening for two people. I'd seen previously on their twitter account that they were fully booked and weren't accepting walk-ins. We arrived 10 minutes early but were shown to our table immediately. Our table that was up two flights of stairs on the third floor. The very tiny third floor. We were placed on the edge of a row of tables, cosily, almost brushing shoulders with the table next to us and the bottoms of waiters as they passed. There were empty tables around us all night, had it not been for the tweet I saw earlier in the day, which made me presume they would be occupied shortly, I didn't ask to be moved.
A waitress appeared at our table almost immediately and asked us if we had been before, yesterday, the only day before that day that the restaurant had been open. No, we hadn't. We were launched in to the menu, it was explained to us that the food came from a specific area of Spain, and that there were plates to nibble on whilst we pondered over main dishes and cold meats that could act as starters. I've been to other restaurants before just not this one. I could have probably have done without this explanation, and a lot of what she told me I could have read from the menu but I played along.
I ordered a couple of glasses of Tempranillo, some olives, salted almonds, and the mixed selection of cold meats. We planned on taking the waitresses recommendation of eating whilst perusing the menu for mains.
Our olives and nuts turned up before our wine about 10 minutes after ordering. I was reluctant to eat them without my wine so sat patiently until the waitress walked near our table, before we could say anything the look on her was a sudden realisation that we didn't have wine and she walked back downstairs to fetch said wine.
With wine in hand, a rather nice wine, we began to eat our olives and nuts. The olives came with guindilla peppers which were sweet and vinegary, and also some cornichons, a nice accompaniment to the olives. The nuts were more like a bar snack, salty and greasy; just making me thirsty.
55 minutes after arriving our meat platter still hadn't arrived, remember this was ordered with the olives and nuts... We had to ask for it to which the response was 'As I went downstairs it was just there on the bar waiting for me!'. Great. The boards consist of cold meats, cheeses and savouries. There must be some artisan way of arranging meats on a wooden board that requires an essence of skill for it to take that long for it to reach a table.
Our meat platter was placed before us and the waitress started to walk away before returning and saying "I suppose you will want to know what is on it"... Yes please.
The board(s) consisted of air dried ham, iberico. cured mutton, chorizo iberico, oak smoked duck, creamy blue cheese, smoked manchego, a small square of blood orange jam, and a couple of crackers.
The iberico came in short supply, it was one of the better pieces on the board salty and flavoursome. The blue cheese was so creamy it was almost bordering on a brie consistency. The manchego was also good too with a slight smoky taste.
The mutton (pictured above) isn't something I've ever had cold or on a meat platter before, I remain unsure about it. It was almost like eating left over lamb from Sunday dinner.
The chorizo was D's favourite. He struggled a little with the platter and didn't seem that keen on a lot of it. He didn't like the cold duck at all, whereas I really liked it. More meat platters should have cold rare duck.
An hour and 15 minutes after our arrival our order for tapas was taken. We were then told that two of the items we wanted to order were out of stock for the night, the chorizo and the belly bacon (with apple puree). It was explained to us at the beginning that the dishes would be brought out as they were ready to keep them fresh. This sounded perfect, I hate it went all your tapas comes out at the same time, it goes cold, it cramps up the table and it's much better to indulge in to one or two dishes at a time.
After another substantial wait all the dishes pretty much came out at once.
First on the table were the albondigas (meatballs), the classic tapas dish. I've had some pretty good albondigas before so I felt excited to compare. The meatballs here are served much smaller than anywhere else I've had them before. They were quite dry so I found myself cutting them in half and trying to moisten them with the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. We were asked for our feedback at the end of the meal and I commented that I found them quite dry, to which the waitress responded that she thought the same but they are in fact just meaty. I'm sorry but dry and meaty don't equate to the same thing when talking about meatballs in my mind. I provided no more feedback, I didn't feel it would be taken on board.
Next up was the iberico pigs cheek, cauliflower purée and crispy pigs ears. The cheek broke away nicely beneath my fork, braised it went well with the cauliflower. I struggled to pick up much flavour from the pigs ears but they added a nice texture.
The croquettes followed. These were much creamier than I thought they would be, definitely a dish to share as it was very rich.
We were warned when we ordered the tortilla that it's served with a runny yolk. I love a runny yolk. Served in it's own mini frying pan the tortilla was presented to the table. It was a bit more than a runny yolk, the inside was completely soft and runny. D struggled with the texture, and to be honest I think, in this case, I prefer my egg a little harder.
I always order patatas bravas with tapas dishes too, another staple, another great one to compare. They got these bang on. The sauce was tangy and rich, the potatoes crispy and pre-salted. You might be thinking it's hard to not get patatas bravas right, but believe me I have had some odd ones prior to this date. My only criticism of this dish is that there could have been more!
We decided to order dessert, feeling that was sufficient enough room to do so. We were eagle eyeing the table behind us to see which dishes they chose to try and order the best option. The waitress described the Torrijas to us as layered brioche with caramel and served with ice cream. I was sold. D opted for their Spanish inspired version of mille feuille.
The brioche was less layered and more a slice of brioche loaf cut in to a triangle and soaked in caramel. I was a bit disappointed. Thankfully D played the best boyfriend card and agreed to swap with me. As I write this I just realised that we said recently to friends that this never happens as I always order best... That will teach me to change my mind at the last minute with a sales pitch from the waitress!!
Luckily D had ordered what I was originally going to order, and he said he preferred mine. What a hero. I think I prefer the French version. It was tasty but a bit of fruit would have livened this dish up. The chocolate (I think?) stain underneath, remained a stain and didn't influence the dish at all. Maybe it was just a pattern on the plate?
Once we finished dessert we decided it was time to go and asked for the bill. When the bill came we had been charged for a bottle of wine we never ordered. We then had to sit awkwardly waiting to grab the waitress's attention so she could fix it.
A 10% service charge was automatically added, regular readers know my gripe with service charges on the bill. FYI this one didn't even say 'optional'. We hadn't received particularly good service, missing drinks, meals and long delays. The waitress even rested on our table hot footing from foot to foot telling us her feet hurt because she had worked some really long shifts over the last few days. I wasn't exactly sure how I was supposed to respond to that... I'm sorry that I'm here making your feet hurt? We didn't leave an additional tip, and the waitress snubbed us afterwards because of this.
Without the discount the total price should have been just under £75, with the 50% discount it came to just under £45. I feel the lower price is more reflective of the dishes here. The place looks great, it's decked out well, there are lots of gins for you to try if you like gin. The food just didn't match up for me. I've had better for less cash, in much less attractive places. I don't like paying for atmosphere, I'm not rich, I like paying for good food.
On the way out we noticed those sat on the ground floor had a place to hang their coats, whilst us on the lofty third floor were resigned to awkwardly hanging our coats off the back of our chairs and sliding our brollies under our chairs. I'm glad I wasn't wearing stilettos that night, I think arse over tit is the expression, I dread to think of the stumbles lying ahead down those stairs!
I'll stick to the Mexican next time.