Blink and there’s another new restaurant in Leeds. Blink again and it’s gone.
Such is the turnover that eateries in the city seem to have the lifespan of a football manager.
There are some exceptions of course, the Wenger and Ferguson types which seem to have been part of the cityscape forever but it is exciting that new ventures are often tried.
And it is healthy that they sometimes fail. If you try new things, then of course sometimes they won’t succeed.
One of the newest restaurants in Leeds is, on the face of it, likely to succeed. George’s Great British Kitchen has opened in a former clothes shop on The Headrow.
It has four things in its favour. The location couldn’t be better, right in the heart of Leeds as part of The Light complex and close by some fine eateries such as Brown’s.
Second, it has excellent, attentive staff.
Third, the menu is full of standard classics with a slight twist which means everyone will find something to their taste.
And fourth, it has some tantalisingly named dishes which should draw you back for repeat business.
For example, the homemade ham hock and mushy pea fritters as a starter sounded interesting. They’re covered in crunchy seaweed crumb and drizzled with creamy wasabi mayo.
Or ‘the finest Scottish haddock in smoked paprika batter, drizzled with red wine and honey vinegar and chipotle mayo’ . They both sound exciting but it’s the ‘proper scampi’ (£12.95) which caught my attention.
It’s “Scottish langoustine tail in a light lemon pepper breadcrumb coating, served with our twice cooked chips, chunky tartare sauce, mint and pea puree, tomato salsa and chopped spring onion garnish”. Sounds better than pub grub scampi, that’s for sure.
We – my wife and my dad – bypassed all those choices, though, which means another visit is in order.
We missed out the starters, tempting though ‘George’s runny yolk Scotch egg’ or ‘katsu chicken goujons’ sounded. We went straight for the mains.
My wife chose rump steak (£16.95) and my dad’s a steak enthusiast, so it was ribeye for him (£21.95).
They were served with a stack of crispy onion rings, baby leaf salad, grilled cherry vine tomatoes, slow-cooked button mushroom confit, twice cooked chips and a pot of fresh tomato salsa. Both were cooked well on request and were excellent cuts of meat, well presented.
One slight problem, though. They came with the option of sauces (my wife had creamy black peppercorn sauce for £1.95) which was great. But the fact that the meat was served, as is the fashion these days, on a flat wooden board meant the sauce was in danger of spilling on the table. A plate might have been boring but would have suited the sauce better.
My main course was an interesting affair. Lemon, tarragon and garlic grilled chicken (£13.95). It was a butterflied chicken breast, marinated in tarragon, lemon and rapeseed oil, grilled and served on a bed of young salad leaves and green beans. With confit button mushrooms, charcoal grilled cauliflower, grain mustard, tarragon and honey dressing. It was a delicate dish and very tasty. I’ve never eaten such tasty cauliflower. It came with a portion of twice-cooked chips and I ordered a stack of onion rings (£2.25).
We washed it down with a single Bulleit Bourbon (A Kentucky brand and which cost £2.95), a glass of pinot grigio (£6.95) and a pint of Curious IPA (£4.50) from Kent brewery Chapel Down. All was well.
We left room for desserts and felt honour-bound to indulge and, given the tempting treats on offer, it was a wise move.
It’s funny how ‘old school’ dishes are suddenly in vogue. So for £9.95, dad chose a combination of ‘all of your childhood classics, served on one board. A good and proper ice cream of your choice, served with a unique topping. Our very own caramelised vanilla candyfloss custard and a retro steamed golden syrup sponge’. It was fun and fabulous.
I went for ‘Apple and Caramac higgledy piggledy pie (£5.95), billed as “British bramley apple and caramac pie with a higgledy piggledy crumble top, salted caramel sauce and a good dollop of vanilla ice cream’.
My wife missed out on the pudding, choosing a Bailey’s coffee instead (£4.95). It was a grand meal and at just under £100 (£94.20 to be precise) for the three of us, it was not bad value either.
It surprised us that this place was so new. It had only been opened a few weeks when we ventured in but it looks established with a nautical theme and tables set in a sort of beach chalet configuration. In fact, our table was called Filey.
It’s certainly a worthy addition to an important part of the city and well worth a visit. If you get along, let me know what proper scampi tastes like. I can’t wait to find out.
George’s Great British Kitchen,
Address: 52 The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 8TL
Opening times: Sunday-Thursday 11.30am–9.30pm, Friday & Saturday 11.30am–10.30pm
Telephone: 0113 244 6959