Born out of a desire to create food that hadn’t been seen in its hometown before, FINCA burst onto Liverpool’s bustling food and drink scene in 2016, when it took up a spot in the Baltic Triangle’s coveted Botanical Garden. Serving up the likes of plantain crisps, gouda croquettas, yuca doughnuts and guava barbecue ribs, FINCA soon became a sure-fire hit with Scousers and visitors alike, and its success has snowballed ever since.
As a fellow Baltic Triangle resident, we’ve supported FINCA from the off, through its three Baltic residencies in the Botanical Garden, Constellations, and the Baltic Market. And we’re very excited to see that it’s moving on to bigger and better things…
Created by four lads from Liverpool (though, one is technically from Macclesfield), Oli, Joe, Michael and Daniel have had past successes with Liverpool’s Buyers Club and Secret Diners Club. FINCA – their Cuban street food venture – has recently found fame on BBC 2’s Million Pound Menu.
The show, which is nearing the final few episodes of the inaugural series, has been described by many as The Apprentice meets Dragon’s Den meets MasterChef. Wannabe restauranteurs pitch their ideas to some of the industry’s biggest investors, hoping to get their foot on the ladder’s restaurant rung. FINCA’s success on Million Pound Menu plays to the tune of £150k, with Living Ventures CEO Jeremy Roberts backing the boys, having seen real potential in FINCA’s food and the four friends behind it.
Today, FINCA’s first restaurant sits in Manchester’s Spinningfields, located downstairs at Artisan – a prime spot in the centre of the city, with both indoor and outdoor space. You’ll find no gimmicks here – there’s no Che Guevara portrait on the wall, people aren’t dancing the Mambo whilst they take your order, and Tony Montana isn’t there.
Instead, you’ll find a backdrop of Cuban influence, which touches upon everything in FINCA, from the food itself – which is created with a unique FINCA ‘twist’ – to the music, which features the likes of Fela Kuti, and other notable Afro-beat musicians; alongside Nigerian Afro-funk artist William Onyeabor and a range of other artists that take their influence from the ‘Pearl of the Antilles’.
The staple item on FINCA’s menu is the Cubano – a grilled sandwich bursting with gouda cheese, pork shoulder, gammon, pickle and mustard. Born in the sugar mills of Havana, and perfected in the Cuban cigar factories of Florida in the late 19th century, the Cubano is rooted in Cuban heritage and history; and was more recently popularised in Jon Favreau’s film, Chef. There are two iterations on the menu – the classic Cubano, and its veggie counterpart with grilled asparagus and watercress pesto.
I’ve made three trips to FINCA since its opening at the beginning of June just to get my FINCA fix. One of my trips was to the official launch of the new Spinningfields space, which was packed full of people all there to try the FINCA classics – sweet potato fries, Cuban fried chicken, spiced seabass, tostones, Cuban nachos, and bunuelos, amongst others. (You can watch the video from the launch further down the page.)
Make sure you check out the restaurant next time you’re in Spinningfields – the guys are there for the next two months – then, the world is their oyster!? Although, we’d love to see a FINCA back in Liverpool very soon…
All images credits: FINCA