I have no real idea what dining in Manhattan is like – having never been, I can only go on what characters from Netflix programmes eat.
Still, the new East 59th, “a New York Rooftop Bar & Grill right here in Leeds” at Victoria Gate, looked like one to tick off.
After being led in via a few smiles and hellos from staff members we ask to be seated out on the rooftop terrace because, you know, the novelty value. There is a nice view of the domes on Kirkgate Market and being sat up in the breeze is a treat, but after a few minutes we sheepishly ask if we could go back inside. Eating with your coat on feels a bit weird, despite the heaters kindly being switched straight on.
Once sat down, we’re promptly served the drinks we order: a Lenox Hill Margarita (£8), which includes Olmeca, Cointreau, fresh grapefruit and lime, and which is shaken with homemade ginger syrup and fresh rosemary.
And I go for a pint of Peroni, which at £5.50 feels a bit steep considering it’s not really a rarity these days.
However, after nicking a sip of my friend’s cocktail I confirm they are worth a go – this was not too sweet and had a kick.
To start, we share a portion of pepperoncini peppers stuffed with feta (£4.50) and a red pepper, garlic and herb focaccia, which comes with a sour cream and chive dip (£4).
Both are lovely - the peppers piquant and juicy and the bread soft – and whet the appetite. In fact, the actual words of my partner were: “That really whetted my appetite.”
I’m usually a bit cautious about plush places like this, and feel like they’re perhaps all about the hype, but the surroundings are genuinely impressive.
Along with its sister restaurant Issho, just next door, great care has clearly been taken with the decoration and there is obviously an expectation that waiting and bar staff are very attentive – they are brilliant throughout.
Seating is spacious enough and the liquor cabinet behind the bar goes so high I assume ladders are an essential.
It’s a cheeseburger (£7.50) for my main – beef, lettuce, red onion, “house sauce” (no idea) and a gherkin and spicy relish on the side. Portion-wise, my first thoughts are that it’s the size of a large canapé rather than a main meal, but over three-courses it’s big enough. And although that was nothing to shout about, the side portion of onion rings (£3) and paprika and Parmesan fries (£3.50), even if lacking a bit with the cheese, do go down well.
My friend’s halloumi and veg skewer with Chimichurri (£8.50) is tasty, I’m told, but lacked the punch she wanted.
I felt obliged to finish with a New York Cheese Cake (£5), and was utterly jealous when my friend’s brownie arrived (£5).
[Subs: Three stars please. Address: Victoria Gate]