Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Crafthouse, Leeds

The first thing I felt on arriving at Crafthouse was a slight pang of guilt. There are a good number of local, independent restaurants in Leeds at which I've been wanting to eat for years, and here I was rocking up at the sparkling new outpost of a thirty strong London based restaurant group.

The second thing I couldn't help but feel was a little bit impressed. They really have got the best location in town up there on top of the new Trinity development, and it's maximised to full effect as you rise up in the glass fronted lift and views of a compact, surprisingly complete looking urban skyline appear.

So it was with mixed feelings that I approached the meal. Good quality places to eat are always welcome, but would I have rather been somewhere else, maybe somewhere with a long standing commitment to the Leeds dining scene (although I should point out that the Head Chef here is from Yorkshire, even if the backing isn't)?


Things started on a positive note with some lovely mini loaves of warm, nutty wholemeal and too much butter. Then salad to start; chicory and Yorkshire blue, watercress, poached pear, roasted walnut. An assemblage of decent ingredients, though I'll stick my neck out and say that Yorkshire blue isn't my favourite cheese. I'm sure I should be praising the use of local products, but it's not got the depth of a good Stilton.


The best bit of my meal came next, a beautifully cooked sea bream fillet with uniformly crisp skin that split from the flesh like a delicate fish scratching. Generously proportioned too for a pre-theatre menu offering. Cauliflower puree, leek (or leak according to the menu) fondue and light shellfish sauce didn't really offer much in support other than being vaguely beige and creamy.


The set menu puddings were fancier in plating than starters and mains, caramelised white chocolate mousse and cherry sorbet looked and reportedly tasted fantastic. Iced lemon curd, blackberries, meringue and crispy pastry didn't quite work for me though, the intensely sharp and cold lemon rather drowning out the taste of the blackberries. Good pastry though, like what you'd find at the base of a well made vanilla slice.

I finished, as I'd started, with mixed feelings about Crafthouse. It's a very professional operation as you'd expect, service was good and there are obviously some talented people in the kitchen (that fish really was spot on, and the bread was great too), but I didn't love all of the food and the atmosphere, despite the views, feels a little corporate and calculated. I'd return, but not before making the effort to visit some of those other places on my list.

Almost forgot to mention prices (it was a work meal so I wasn't paying); the pre-theatre set menu is £22.50 for three courses, a la carte around £30-35. Wine? Not bad actually, plenty by the carafe at under twenty quid.


7/10

Level 5 Trinity Leeds
70 Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6HW

http://www.crafthouse-restaurant.com/


Crafthouse (D&D) on Urbanspoon