Restaurant review: Mr Nobody, Leeds city centre

Pork belly with caramalised pineapple, at Mr Nobody. Pictures: Scott Merrylees.
Pork belly with caramalised pineapple, at Mr Nobody. Pictures: Scott Merrylees.
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It’s a tricky concept, being “cool”.

Whilst the lucky few manage to pull it off with frustrating ease, the majority off us sadly expend a great deal of effort desperately attempting to channel our inner Fonzie and, for the most part, failing miserably.

The Eastern lamb dish.

The Eastern lamb dish.

It’s much the same for restaurants too, perhaps even more so considering that any venue can literally live or die by its ability to tap into that elusive sense of being a “place to be.”

Perhaps the secret, if there is one, lies with not trying too hard at all, and that certainly seems to be what those behind Lower Briggate’s new favourite hot spot Mr Nobody seems to be going for.

It’s not that there’s a lack of effort, quite the opposite in fact.

It’s more that right from the get go, it’s clear that everyone from bar to kitchen is relaxed and enjoying themselves and letting you come along for the ride.

Mr Nobody.

Mr Nobody.

Even on a Saturday evening, when my profoundly uncool companion and I stopped by, there was no obvious sense of anyone rushing about, panicking or trying to impress.

We received a warm, but not in-your-face welcome in the ground floor bar area and were left to ponder the cocktail menu at our leisure, and were only asked to let them know when we were ready to move to the basement restaurant.

In case you haven’t ventured down Lower Briggate in a while, you may not have noticed that Mr Nobody has taken over the site of the much loved, meat-focussed restaurant Rare.

The walls adorned with taxidermy animals – and the huge taxidermy cow that was housed downstairs and became well known – is long gone.

The basement restaurant at Mr Nobody.

The basement restaurant at Mr Nobody.

In its place now stands a more relaxed venue, with exposed wood and a garden area at the back.

The cocktail menu features a dozen mouth-watering creations, from £6.50 to £8.

For those wanting a quick bite to eat, there is also a pizza menu available on the ground floor, priced from £7 to £10.

But we weren’t there for the pizza. To kick things off, my companion chose the cheekily-named Mangoes into a Bar, with mango, passion fruit and vodka.

Served in a tiki-style china cup with a palm leaf wedged down the side, it looked and tasted like something you would get in a tropical paradise.

I went for the Bees Knees cocktail, with raw honey, amaretto, lemon juice, pear and apple juice. The £8 price tag includes a £1 donation to www.helpsavebees.co.uk, and it was deliciously sweet.

It was so good, in fact, that I found it hard to peel myself away from the bar to go downstairs to the restaurant.

However, the basement restaurant is where things get more interesting.

The more formal dining area has had a revamp with leather booth seating around the edge and stylish but comfortable chairs and wooden tables – striking the right balance between cosy and interesting without trying too hard.

When it originally launched, Mr Nobody aimed to offer a new take on tapas, serving small plates. But recently they have decided to try something different – and it’s paying off.

The ‘Summer Discovery’ tasting menu offers diners the choice of either five courses for £35 or eight courses for £45.

You can also get an additional wine flight, priced at £20 or £30 respectively.

As we discovered, each course is a miniature work of art, with incredible attention paid to even the tiniest detail.

To get the taste buds tingling, we were given a starter of braised baby leeks, served with baby parsley and 48-month aged parmesan.

The plate of food was on the small side but the powerful flavours were a great way to start the meal.

It was swiftly followed by a dish of mini new potatoes, topped with avocado mousse and herring roe. The mousse was light and refreshing, and the dish was paired with a glass of cold, crisp prosecco.

It was delicious but again slightly on the small side, with just two new potato-sized portions on the plate.

Luckily the next course was more substantial, with a generous helping of 72-hour sourdough bread with cod roe and lobster oil in a mayonnaise, aioli-type dip served in a delicate china mug.

The bread was warm and baked to perfection, without being too stodgy, while the dip had a fantastic smoky flavour that we weren’t expecting.

Next up was line-caught mackerel in a coconut and almond curry.

The delicate fish was balanced on top of the powerful curry and it was paired with a rather unusual American Riesling with a hint of lime.

This was my favourite dish – and wine – of the evening.

Then came the main course – pork belly (from an award-winning pig, apparently) with grilled pineapple and pineapple sauce. Crispy on top, with a delicious layer of fat giving way to tender, juicy meat, it was another stand-out dish.

Finally it was time for dessert – a chocolate gateau with frozen raspberry, with a thin shard of jam poking out the top for decoration.

The different textures worked well and, served with a sweet red dessert wine, it was an indulgent end to the meal.

For an after-meal treat, we were given what looked like a mini chocolate bar but was actually ice cream in dark chocolate and popping candy.

There are only a handful of city centre venues that offer tasting menus, and these often come at a premium and include some ‘out there’ creations that might not suit every palate.

But Mr Nobody bridges the gap and makes fine dining accessible, offering exciting food in a friendly setting.

When it comes to keeping it cool, Nobody does it better.

MR NOBODY

Address: 163 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LY

Website: www.mrnobody.co.uk

Tel: 0113 246 7013

Opening times: Upstairs: Closed Sun and Mon. Open 4pm to 11pm Tuesday to Thursday, 4pm to 1am Friday and 12pm to 1am Saturday. Downstairs: Tasting menus from 6.30pm to 10pm Wednesday to Saturday.

Food ****

Value ***

Atmosphere *****

Service ****

Roast British chicken. PIC: Scott Merrylees

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