Eddy Nuttall, the owner and head chef of Dish, will be hoping there’s some truth in the adage that one man’s loss is another’s gain.
He moved his still relatively fledgling venture into number 19 Boar Lane a matter of months after Anthony’s – one of the city’s one-time culinary heavyweights – was forced to move out.
Former occupant Anthony Flinn had been struggling to sustain the initial soar-away success of his eponymous restaurant and closed the fine dining establishment for good shortly after vacating the Boar Lane site to set up shop in the Corn Exchange.
While his predecessor’s struggles should act as a salutory warning, however, Nuttall has reason to be optimistic.
Dish’s fortunes have, to date, travelled in the opposite direction.
Previously occupying significantly smaller premises on Great George Street, the restaurant earned high praise when Oliver ate there in January of last year.
The Best Newcomer title at the 2013 Oliver Awards followed and, with demand outstripping the supply of tables, within months the restaurant had outgrown the building and Nuttall was looking to up-size.
At Boar Lane he’s certainly found what he was looking for – the ground level bar area is not a lot smaller than the entire space the restaurant enjoyed at Great George Street. The subterranean dining area itself is gargantuan in comparison.
However, given that part of the Great George Street restaurant’s appeal was its intimacy and the attentiveness of the service, it will be interesting to see whether the staff can replicate the success they’ve created so far in much more spacious – and prominent – surroundings.
In some respects there’s a sense that they’re still learning to adjust – we had to grab our waiter’s attention a couple of times because of requests that had been overlooked
There was also a substantial wait between our starters and main courses.
For the most part, however, Dish appears to be making the step up with cautious assurance.
It was pleasantly busy on the Saturday night of our visit. Thankfully, given that on the last occasion that we visited Anthony’s we entered through an obscure side door, on this occasion we were able to get in through the front.
The bar area at ground floor level remains largely the same as it was when it was part of Anthony’s.
A board on one wall advertising an evening of molecular gastronomy – the cuisine Anthony’s specialised in – is another throwback to its previous life.
After enjoying a drink in the bar, we took our table downstairs.
The service, despite the aforementioned occasional hiccups, was for the most part very good – attentive and friendly.
The contemporary British menu, which retains much of the identity established at Boar Lane, looked hugely inviting from start to finish.
A high level of thought has clearly gone into the creation of each dish.
My dining partner’s starter of char grilled king scallops was a prime example – the sweetness of the scallops themselves was enhanced by a smoked white chocolate veloute but offset by the subtle spice of chilli oil.
On top of the scallops was a delicate portion of keta caviar. A saffron potato pancake completed a diminutive dish that was big on imagination.
I had the gin and beetroot cured Atlantic salmon with wasabi mayonnaise and soft boiled quail’s egg. Golden beetroot, beetroot caviar and a celeriac remoulade gave extra dimensions to a plate whose good looks were matched by the variety and well judged combination of its flavours. The slivers of salmon were beautifully tender, the mayonnaise gave the dish real bite.
I followed up my starter with the slow-cooked lamb shanks. Rarely has meat been this succulent, sliding off the bone in delicious chunks.
It came with soft truffled polenta, broad beans, mushrooms and was topped with some Jerusalem artichoke crisps which, while primarily offering a means of decoration were nevertheless extremely tasty. I had absolutely no trouble hoovering up the entire dish.
My dining partner’s main was her favourite of the three courses. The Yorkshire venison haunch steak was just the right shade of pink all the way through and came with a crunchy parmesan and herb crust.
The saffron gnocchi were lovely, as were the crisp sweetbreads, which she’d probably have eaten an entire plate of given the chance.
The green peppercorn sauce gave just the right level of piquancy to a plate that left her smiling with self-satisfied delight.
We also shared a portion of seasonal greens.
For dessert we chose the assiette of small portions of some of the restaurant’s excellent selection of puddings. There was a wonderfully rich white chocolate mousse with raspberries, panna cotta, a cappuccino mousse served attractively in a small mug and an almond tart with blackberries.
None of them was a let-down, though the panacotta, which came with a heavenly piece of burned honeycomb, scored top marks.
There were some definite unspoken calculations going on about exactly how much each one of us ate – although the plate was meant for sharing I think we’d happily have taken one each.
The bill, including a bottle of wine, came to about £80, although we were given a small discount for a small delay in getting us one of our orders, which was a nice touch.
Dish certainly made an impact when it arrived on Leeds’s dining scene. While it may take time to grow into its new surroundings, there is no reason to believe that it can’t build on its initial success.
Address: 19 Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6EA
Opening times: 5-10pm Tuesday to Saturday; also noon–2.30pm Wednesday to Saturday; noon-4pm Sunday
Tel: 0113 3182274