Leeds’s dining scene has sailed through turbulent times over the last few years. And it has suffered from some notoriously heavy casualties along the way.
And it has suffered from some notoriously heavy casualties along the way.
Diners have bid a fond farewell to some of the champion heavyweights of the dining world.
It was certainly a heartbreaking wrench to see the flair and glamour of Anthony’s disappear from the city’s map.
But it also came as a double blow when institution La Grillade closed its doors.
Over the years Brasserie Forty 4 has itself become one of the reliable stalwarts of the city’s dining scene.
And it is encouraging to see that despite the tempestuous storms facing Leeds’s economy the eatery in The Calls is weathering the storm.
Nestled in a former grain warehouse the restaurant shares space with glamorous hotel 42 The Calls.
The imposing, brick building is a welcoming site and Oliver’s eye was particularly struck by a fascinating railing which was decorated with champagne bottles.
We decided to visit on a Saturday evening and thankfully we had the foresight to book in advance of our visit.
The bar area was packed full of couples and groups waiting for their table.
We ordered a soft drink and a beer at the bar while we waited for our table to be prepared.
Within a few minutes our coats were taken from us, which is always a nice touch, and we were shown by a waiter to our table.
As you walk through the restaurant you are under no illusion that this will be anything but special.
The view certainly adds to this.
Oliver has eaten in some of the city’s best restaurants but it still takes my breath away to see the stunning sights of the River Aire.
The lights twinkled from across the river and although the building may be the same, the views have changed over the river.
Overlooking the Brewery Wharf and pedestrian bridge, you can sit back and see just how far the city of Leeds has grown in terms of growth and modern development.
And for those who like to brave the elements there is also the option to dine ‘al fresco’ on the terrace of the restaurant.
However, on a chilly evening in November this was certainly not an option.
My dining partner and I perused the menu and it was refreshing not to be bombarded with countless pages of culinary choices.
There were around six starters to choose from and then a few options from the specials menu including salt and pepper prawns and carpaccio of Yorkshire Beef.
Among the starters were the traditional staple of the soup of the day, a goat’s cheese salad and seared king scallops.
I decided to sample the chicken liver parfait which came served with two thin slices of granary toast and a delicious apple and pear chutney.
The parfait (priced £6.95) was smooth and beautifully seasoned - although there was a little bit too much of it for the two small slices of accompanying toast.
My dining partner was besotted with the black pudding and pork pie starter
As soon as he spotted the dish on the specials menu he was living in hope that it hadn’t been sold out.
The dish (priced £6.50) came served with an onion chutney and within a matter of minutes the small pie had simply vanished from his plate.
The pastry was cooked to perfection and the pork and black pudding were an unusual twist on the dish.
We were spoilt for choice when it came to deciding what to settle for as a main course.
There was a tasty sounding confit leg of duck as well as the pork tenderloin.
The special main courses included the salmon and the cod.
I decided to sample the halibut which came served with steamed mussels and a Champagne cream sauce.
Priced at £18.95 it was one of the more pricey options from the specials menu.
The huge portion of halibut was slightly overbearing on the plate.
The mussels were tender and the sauce was delicious.
But my only qualm was that the portion of beautifully cooked fish was slightly too large.
My dining partner decided to try the lamb rump which came served with celeriac puree, pearl barley and a red current jus.
And as soon as his dish appeared on the table Oliver couldn’t help but suffer from food envy.
The beautiful pink sheen on the meat looked divine as his knife glided through the cut.
We also ordered a side dish of dauphinoise potatoes and peas with bacon but it fell to my poor dining partner to wade his way through the vegetables.
And then we came to the dessert menu and were truly spoiled for choice.
There were eight options including a deliciously warming apple and blackberry crumble, a warm chocolate brownie and a cheeseboard.
My dining partner decided to settle for the thin pear tart which came served hot with stem-ginger ice cream.
The tart was beautifully cooked and despite being extremely full my dining partner managed to devour the whole portion.
I decided to try the orange creme brulee which came with a heart-shaped shortbread biscuit on the side.
The creme brulee was rich and had a fantastic crispy top with a zing of citrus running through it.
Overall our bill, which included a bottle of wine, tipped the scales at just over £99 but then a service charge of ten per cent was added which pushed it up to over £109.
The meal did feel slightly on the pricey side but I suppose it is just a small price to pay to enjoy the sights of Leeds with a visit to an old friend on the city’s culinary scene.
Address: 44 The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EW
Opening times: Tue - Fri noon - 2pm and 6pm-9.30pm; Sat 1pm-3pm and 5pm-10pm.
Tel: 0113 234 3232.