Owt Leeds review: Corn Exchange restaurant that reminds why dining out is a great thing
"Owt" may actually be the perfect description of the dining experience I've been in need of while gingerly reintegrating back into society - give me anything and I'll be happy.
But what's on offer at this inventive Leeds restaurant, which has moved from Kirkgate Market to the Corn Exchange, is much more special than its humble name suggests.
It set up in the market in 2018, creating its recipes to showcase the quality produce available from the traders surrounding it - a philosophy drawn from the French way of life which co-owner Esther Miglio grew up in.
My partner and I went to one of its Thursday supper clubs (on its only late opening day), for which guests need to pre-book main courses - so "our kitchen becomes entirely waste free", says the website - while small plates, wines and desserts can be ordered on the night.
It's not hard too hard to identify the restaurant with its bright splashes of colour and jazz music, and we're shown to seats outside (because the gents are elsewhere in the Corn Exchange, it was difficult to get a good look inside, but it appeared cheerful and nicely spaced out).
The menu is small, so there is nowhere to hide in terms of quality. To start, we shared smoked haddock rillette with bread and crispy tots - fried garlic and potato balls with a parsley sauce (so good they "will haunt my dreams" says the partner).
Diners can choose from one of two meat or vegan options for their mains, so we decided to order one of each: lamb leg steak (slightly pink as suggested), Provençal pakoras, tapenade, focaccia and herbs; and coconut velouté, deep fried aubergine, asparagus, chilli, cucumber and herbs (we were encouraged to dip the aubergine right into the sauce).
This kind of innovation and flair is welcome in a city continuing to develop its culinary credentials - and what's more, it tasted superb. Properly satisfying umami goodness that reminds you just why the restaurant experience is a wonderful thing.
To finish, we were offered shortbread biscuits with a cool berry sauce - light, but beautiful.
Not being embedded in the main part of the restaurant possibly meant the atmosphere suffered, but the service made up for this. The waiting staff were charming and attentive (though not pushy) and it was clearly a genuine pleasure to have customers back despite it being a busy service.
With two glasses of wine, the bill came to £44.50. For this style of cuisine, we thought that was very good indeed.
Address: Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7BR
Telephone: 0113 247 0706
Opening hours: Mon, closed, Tue- Wed, 10am-6pm, Thur, 10am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 11am-4pm.