City Buzz: First look at new Venetian restaurant at Harvey Nichols, Leeds

New Venetian restaurant Polpo at Harvey Nichols. Pictures: Tony Johnson.

New Venetian restaurant Polpo at Harvey Nichols. Pictures: Tony Johnson.

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When Harvey Nichols first arrived on Briggate back in 1996, it saw the city officially crowned The Knightsbridge of the North.

The store went on to become the measuring stick for swankiness, as the rest of the city centre polished its metaphorical shoes and got the best china out in a bid to keep up with the new high-end neighbour.

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Even after all these years, and with the city centre now a very different place, Harvey Nics is still the poshest kid on the block.

So it’s not really surprising that it was the go to place for a new Venetian-style restaurant.

Polpo opens its doors to the public today, but City Buzz got a sneak peek yesterday and can say it’s the perfect addition.

The furnishings ooze elegance and are influenced by the rustic back-street wine bars of Venice.

23 February 2016 .......    new Venetian restaurant Polpo, at Harvey Nichols.
Restaurateur Russell Norman is launching his first Polpo north of London at the former Yo Sushi site on the luxury store�s fourth floor. Picture Tony Johnson

23 February 2016 ....... new Venetian restaurant Polpo, at Harvey Nichols. Restaurateur Russell Norman is launching his first Polpo north of London at the former Yo Sushi site on the luxury store�s fourth floor. Picture Tony Johnson

In fact, restaurateur Russell Norman even made a special visit to Italy to get inspiration for his latest venture, which takes over the former Yo Sushi site on the fourth floor.

Russell said: “For Polpo Leeds we went back to the drawing board and visited our favourite spots in Venice. You will notice genuine Venetian linen light shades and classic tab-top bacaro drapes.

“We also tracked down some glorious 120 year-old glazed bricks from a demolition specialist in North Yorkshire who reclaimed them from a Victorian swimming pool.

“We love being able to recycle and celebrate local architectural heritage in such a simple but visually striking way.

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“The reeded glass proscenium for the kitchen is a detail borrowed from Harry’s Bar in Venice.”

It’s not all about the décor though and a lot of work has gone in to making sure the menu matches the surroundings.

Signature dishes include cicheti, with fried stuffed olives, zucchini arancini and fig and prosciutto crostini starting at £3 each.

Small plates include cod cheeks with lentils and salsa verde, pizzetta with spicy pork and pickled peppers, deep fried polenta-crusted meatballs, and sliced flank steak with porcini, from £6.

The dessert menu is worth a look too, with flourless chocolate and hazelnut cake, blackberry panna cotta and tiramisu from £5.

Of course there’s the choice to wash it all down with drinks such as an Aperol spritz, bellinis or fine Italian wines.

The restaurant is the group’s first site north of London and certainly offers a very different feel to other Leeds eateries.

Luke Bishop, managing director of the restaurant group, said: “We have wanted to find a home for Polpo in the north of England for a long time now and, with its already vibrant and exciting restaurant scene, Leeds is the perfect place.”

Marion Carpentier, group food and hospitality director at Harvey Nichols, said: “We’ve long been admirers and we’re thrilled to be working with the restaurant group.”

Restaurateur Russell has previously spoken about his love of the Leeds food scene and admiration for chefs such as Anthony Flinn and Michael O’Hare from the Man Behind the Curtain, so we’ll have to wait and see just how Polpo measures up.

In any case, we’re looking forward to seeing how this little piece of Italy fits in.

Adam Chadwick, who was killed in Harehills in 2008.

Family remembers murdered Leeds dad Adam Chadwick with memorial football tournament