FINT Leeds, 73 Great George St, Leeds, LS1 3BR – Visit Now
Tucked away in a peaceful street across from St George’s Church in Leeds, FINT is an independent restaurant specialising in Nordic-inspired cuisine. It’s also one of the culinary highlights of the city, with an equally great wine selection. Added to that, it’s not strictly vegan, as you’ll see below, but plenty of the dishes are either plant-only or make good use of non-animal produce.
It’s surprisingly well-priced, considering the quality of the experience, at just £30 for three courses (or £25 for two). It’s also worth noting that aside from the bread course, the menu we tried was entirely gluten-free.
‘Fint’ means ‘fine’ in Norwegian, but FINT is many, many steps up from merely fine
First impressions matter and this venue is a delight: huge windows that face onto the relaxed street outside, a host of carefully-considered fixtures and fittings, plus a wonderfully friendly welcome from co-owner Simon, who works front-of-house. His wealth of knowledge, easy charm and ability to make every guest feel special is remarkable in its own right, food aside.
But the food more than lives up to the service. A wealth of ideas has gone into every dish, creating a menu unlike anywhere else. It’s most similar to Manchester’s equally-superb Erst, in terms of atmosphere and ideas, though with a more traditional three-course menu rather than small plates.
First, locally made sourdough bread, served up in a hand-woven basket with some glorious vegan miso butter, given a little kick with cayen pepper and lemon zest, plus some poppy seeds which add a marvellous texture. A fine opening.
For starters, a beetroot tartare that looks for all the world like steak tartare, that has undergone some kind of alchemy to remove the earthiness, leaving a sweet, beautifully-textured dish that works a treat with the blob of lightly-tangy horseradish seed cream.
Every high-end restaurant should have a good way to showcase scallops and FINT is no exception. You can expect three plump, locally-sourced molluscs, cooked with split-second timing to leave a charred top and bottom, while leaving the insides soft and bouncy. The plate is enhanced by the addition of delicate apple strips, some pickled apricot and a sprinkle of sauerkraut.
The lamb main is exceptional, offering up a host of original ideas. It’s a bowl full of thick roughly-cut pieces of lamb shank, cooked slowly to coax out those subtle sweet and sour flavours, tangled up with thick slices of celeriac, soft in the middle with a satisfying crunch at the edges. The pumpkin cream sauce wraps it all together beautifully, helped by curly kale’s Italian cousin, cavolo nero.
The fish course is equally impressive: a thick piece of coley, precision-cooked to give a crunchy skin while the meat remains soft. Strips of cavolo nero and chunks of roasted beetroot make an appearance here too, while it’s hard to think of a better accompaniment than the rich, creamy polenta mousse that surrounds it all.
Desserts showcase yet more forward-thinking ideas, with the rhubarb and apricot crumble consisting of a variety of seeds and textures, wrapped up in a sweet, satisfying vegan custard. Both this and the chocolate mousse (assisted by chamomile mint gel and tahini granola) are the perfect end to this hearty meal, neither too heavy or bulky, instead making for a relaxed way for the palate to wind down.
It goes without saying that a sensory-led meal like this is enhanced by wine pairings. Simon has the perfect option for each dish, taking taste and preference into account. The most notable being The Thing, a completely natural Spanish wine to go with dessert, produced by vino iconoclast Alfredo Maestro Tejero. It’s an eye-poppingly tart tipple and a superb end to a memorable meal.
The word ‘fint’ means ‘fine’ in Norwegian, but FINT is many, many steps up from merely fine. If you’re a food-lover living in or visiting the North of England, make sure to put this excellent restaurant on your to-do list.