IT’S SATURDAY night in Leeds city centre.
As you can imagine, it’s bursting with revellers ready to dance the night away, and others who have already been out and about are starting to spill out onto the streets.
Somewhere in the midst, there’s Oliver wandering around Boar Lane trying to find the Midtown Grill restaurant, which is around here somewhere.
I approach the bouncers at Bar 1871 and ask if they can point me in the right direction.
Apparently it’s through the bar and through a door to the right.
Unusual, I thought, but I follow his strict instructions and open the huge door to the bar.
Walking through, the usual Saturday night music is blaring, and plenty of people are sat enjoying a drink.
But when I exit the bar area and step into the restaurant, the music dissipates and I’m met with a friendly waiter who seats me at a table at the back of the venue.
It’s a calm oasis in comparison to the more lively bar next door, and I’m pleasantly surprised.
When my dining companion arrives, he tells me he came through the Marriott Hotel entrance, which confuses me a little.
We are immediately handed huge wooden slabs, which have our menus printed on.
They’re quite heavy and not particularly practical but are unusual and interesting nonetheless.
After ordering, we attempt to appreciate some of the American touches to the restaurant.
Huge pictures of the New York skyline adorn the walls and there’s definitely an air of sophisticated glamour to the place, with luxurious leather booths, dim lighting and dark wooden furnishings.
We take a moment to try and identify the background music, but unfortunately our table is right next to the glass doors that join the restaurant to the bar, and we can still hear the thumps of the music from next door.
We eventually realise the restaurant is attempting to play some swing, big band and Sinatra classics, and it’s a shame that these are overpowered by the humdrum from the adjoining bar.
A bread board arrives quickly, which gets the tastebuds tingling, but unfortunately the bread is cold.
Nonetheless our starters soon arrive and are a feast for the eyes.
My dining companion’s beef carpaccio, priced at £8.50, is fanned out on the plate and sprinkled with Parmesan and shallots, before being drizzled in olive oil.
It looks particularly impressive, which perhaps it should for the price.
I opted for the onion soup au gratin, which is served with a Gruyère cheese crouton and comes in at £6.50 quite pricy for essentially a bowl of soup.
The white ceramic bowl has a thick layer of cheese over the top, underneath which the crouton is hiding.
I eagerly tuck in but am disappointed to find that the soup is more gravy like in consistency, and is thicker than I expected.
I struggle to finish it and eye up my companion’s starter with jealousy.
Other starters include king prawns and various salads, but there’s not a huge choice.
It doesn’t really matter though, because I have a feeling the star of the show will be the main course.
Obviously, being a grill restaurant, steaks, chops and seafood are the main focus of the menu.
What makes Midtown Grill a bit different, though, is that you can choose between either Yorkshire steaks or American steaks.
But the USA equivalent obviously comes at a premium.
Yorkshire steaks will set you back anywhere from £18 to £22, whilst the American versions start at £28 and go up to a whopping £35.
Seafood dishes start at £11.50 for a cod dish to £25 for lobster, whilst a half chicken costs £13.50.
There are just a couple of options for vegetarians, including a twice-baked Yorkshire blue cheese souffle and a pasta dish.
Sides including fries, roast potatoes, creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms all cost £2.50.
I opt for the 200g Yorkshire fillet steak for a pricy £22, with a green peppercorn sauce for an extra £1.50.
It arrives at the table on a huge wooden tray, with several square plates to divide up the steak, which is served with a grilled tomato on the side, a portion of caramelised onions, and the jug of sauce on the side.
The spinach and potato side dishes were a hasty decision and weren’t totally necessary, as the huge slab of juicy steak and its various accompaniments were filling enough.
The meat was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth.
I struggled to finish the whole thing but my companion swiftly polished the remainders off.
He wolfed down his American Black Angus rib eye steak, which, whilst the cheapest American steak on the menu, was a budget-busting £28.
Served with a red wine jus, he thoroughly enjoyed it, and there was a subtle difference between the two steaks.
We shared a dessert, which was wise for the waistline – and the wallet.
There’s a choice of cheesecakes, pumpkin pie and ice creams, at around £6.50.
We shared mango, lemon and orange sorbets, which were tasty enough but with the £6 price tag, it felt a bit steep.
To our surprise, the bill was accompanied with a little mini barbecue, some marshmallows and a pot of chocolate, which was a lovely touch.
It didn’t quite distract from the bill though, which, with a bottle of wine and a couple of soft drinks, came to £102.
It’s a hefty price to pay for a taste of America. But if you’re desperate for some subtle New York glamour in the heart of Leeds, it might be a price some are willing to pay.