To commuters driving in and out of Leeds everyday, the subtle draw of an unassuming bistro is easy to pass by.
Having been in Commercial Road, Kirkstall, for more than two and a half years, Gallery FortyOne somehow still has that untapped feel about it.
Embedded in a row of retail units featuring a couple of takeaways and a carpet shop near to where Commercial Road blends into Abbey Road, this Mediterranean bistro is pretty easy to miss.
Nevertheless Gallery FortyOne has gained a steady reputation as a well priced, good value eatery primarily offering a range of pizza and pasta dishes along with a selection of steak, fish, lamb and chicken dishes.
Intent on testing its two courses for £9.95 or three for £12.95 earlybird menu, we were greeted by a bubbly, attentive waitress and shown to a table by the entrance on an early Thursday evening visit.
Inside, Gallery FortyOne is one of those places that somehow feels detached from its surroundings despite being on a busy commuter road.
Its white marble tiled flooring, rustic wooden furniture and glass topped tables exude that relaxing sun-drenched Mediterranean spirit. Modern artwork adorns the white painted walls, shuttered blinds partially cut you off from the traffic outside and spotlights give the airy bistro a warm, intimate feel.
The earlybird seemed a great deal. A selection of four starters including soup of the day awaited, before a choice of any of the 25 or so pizza and pasta dishes or a salmon or chicken dish, and any of four desserts.
Having ordered a festive mulled wine (£3.50) and a large glass of Coca Cola (£1.50), I chose bruschetta topped with tomato, garlic and basil with a dash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (£4.00), while my dining partner went for duck liver pate served with orange on toasted bread (£4.00) for starters.
The bruschetta was lovely – the balsamic vinegar and garlic hint balancing amid perfectly toasted Italian bread and generous helpings of tomato.
My partner’s thick, smooth pate was well presented with leaves of salad and again proved a generous but not overly-filling start to the meal.
We followed those with a parma ham, salami, napoli, copa cured meat and rocket-topped Gallery 41 pizza (£9.20) and the Tagliatelle al Pollo (£8.95), which was a mixed peppers, white wine and tomato pasta dish that featured chicken strips sauteed in garlic and chilli.
The pizza was sizable and perfectly cooked. The sweet tomato sauce balanced with the saltiness of the cured meat brilliantly, while the crunchy base and fresh rocket added further to its taste and texture.
My pasta dish was tasty but was a little too greasy, while the small chicken strips added welcome extra spice and were lovely and tender but, for the amount of pasta I was given, there wasn’t enough meat.
With the addition of a large bottle of Magners cider (£2.95) our bill came to a very reasonable £27.85.
Gallery FortyOne is a great value, hearty taste of the tranquil Mediterranean set in bustling commuter Leeds.