Sophie Rahnema goes on a fruitless hunt for texture at this Scandi diner
My pal and I are in Leeds today. Wandering the streets, hoping to sniff out something new and exciting to eat. Lunch at the Corn Exchange takes us to Owt, where we warm up our bellies with a fried chicken sandwich and a wonderful green salad with sharp pickled vegetables and creamy vinaigrette.
Confidentials’ own Thom Archer's review of the pastel-painted pantry in 2019 was glowing, we’ve been beaten to it so we must move on.
There aren’t even any crackers to scoop up this puddle. What we manage to secure on a fork is wobbly and unpleasant.
We chat to a couple of lads working in HIP who, besides indulging our insatiable need to try on Beatniks in every colourway, suggest a pizza place we've also reviewed already.
Sitting and scouring for ideas in the Old Red Bus Station, a restaurant named FINT catches my eye. I hear Fettle, the restaurant that stood before it, was great. It could be everything we’re looking for.
There are two English definitions of fint on Google. One comes courtesy of Urban Dictionary - please only look this up if you want to lose your appetite - the other I take as fact. Fint means “find”. Let’s hope we find it well.
In Swedish, fint means "fine" or "delicate".
FINT is filled with pine. It’s cool, in a lifestyle store kind of way. The tables are low, and ours is tucked right into a corner in the window. It’s dark now and we’re very on display.
Sourdough bread (£3) arrives with butter - it’s spiked with miso and I detect cayenne pepper. The spice is raw on the tongue and tickles my throat in a dry way. It’s weird.
Tall wine glasses and bread baskets with a hint of neon on the walls in the background make for a pleasing aesthetic for the ‘gram and we take arty photos while we wait for food.
Scallops (£9) are a real treat at FINT. They’re huge, soft and bouncy and their flavour alone is sweet and wonderful. So far I only have mother nature to thank, though. Something went awry as soon as somebody introduced them to sauerkraut and pickled apricot. I’m searching the dusty corners of my mind palace to make these flavours work. My search returns fruitless but my plate unfortunately is not. Apricot is tumbled around the plate almost as if it has been dropped there by accident. Perhaps it was an accident. I hope it was an accident.
Beetroot tartare (£5) bleeds on the plate like a raw organ. Topped with horseradish and seed cream, there is absolutely no texture on this dish. Beetroot is great because, again mother nature made it, but somehow FINT has undone all her wonderful work. There aren’t even any crackers to scoop up this puddle. What we manage to secure on a fork is wobbly and unpleasant.
My sweet and sour dill lamb shank (£20) is neither sweet nor sour. It isn’t strictly a shank either. What I look down at is a bowl of green goo. The goo is so bitingly salty that I poke it around a bit with a spoon before pushing it to one side.
My pal’s coley (£20) is the only warm part of her plate. Polenta mousse and roasted beets are stone cold and slippery. She doesn’t want to eat this either.
We start to lose it. Delightful, stifled shoulder-shaking chortles at first, breaking into immature giggles when we peer around at other sullen diners sopping up their damp food with leftover bread. We avoid eye contact with tres serious staff who are slowly pacing the floor like exam invigilators.
Dessert is no better. Texture is not a concept at FINT. My rhubarb crumble (£5) would have your grandma spinning in her grave. Pink rhubarb is largely untouched and is pink and sharp, but crumble is anaemic and sandy. Nothing like the bubbly, crumbly, sticky corners of burnt butter and sugar you dream of as a kid. Vegan custard is grey and pallid with the unpleasant feel of semolina.
I can confidently say that I have never in my life deserted a dessert, but this is a horrible, horrible dealbreaker. And when I look over to my friend’s plate I feel exasperated. Her chocolate mousse (£5) looks like it has been purchased at a joke shop. Raw cocoa is gritty and grainy on the tongue.
She picks around the pile and nibbles on granola but chamomile mint gel gives off a whiff of toilet gel so we throw in the towel.
FINT could be a casualty of its own coolness. A Scandinavian-inspired trope too far. And as far as I know, our Scandinavian friends like to chew their food before they swallow.
FINT, 73 Great George St, Leeds LS1 3BR
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Scallops 6, beetroot tartare 4, sweet and sour lamb shank 4, coley 6, rhubarb crumble 4, chocolate mousse 3
Too cool for school
Sad diners but cool interior