HONESTLY, we’re not stalkers. But when we heard that the favourite sons of Leeds, the Brownlee brothers, had visited the West Park Lounge we felt we should follow suit.
If it’s good enough for them, then it we imagined it would be good enough for my wife and I and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law Jon and Sue.
They’d been before to this popular café cum restaurant in Otley Road, West Park, close to Headingley, but not for years.
A quick look at the website and a glance on social media confirmed that it sounded good and that it had the unwitting endorsement of Jonathan and Alistair, so we booked.
A meal for four with drinks and, in two cases a dessert, for £81.85. Not bad. In fact, considering the quality of the food, it was pretty good.
It was a Sunday teatime when we arrived – not the busiest time. But we imagine it will be positively heaving on a Friday or Saturday evening and most lunchtimes.
Given that it was a sunny evening there were quite a few people dining and drinking in the open-air area to the front of the premises.
To say these premises are by quite a busy main road, the eating area at the front is particularly pleasant. The building is set well back from the road and the area is spacious and – on this particular day – bathed in sunshine.
It wasn’t particularly busy but the helpful waitress was run off her feet, serving drinks and taking orders. But we weren’t in a rush and it was good to have time to chat.
Service quickened and we must say our dishes were good choices, all freshly prepared and prompt. And the service was with a smile and helpful advice and tips on the dishes on offer.
We skipped starters although we had been tempted to try Jalapenos Ripieni (jalapenos filled with cream cheese coated in breadcrumbs deep fried and served with tomato chutney) or the West Park Dip (a selection of home-made offerings of humus, yoghurt, mixed marinated olives, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze).
Instead, we went straight for the mains at this restaurant whose menu tends towards the Italian.
My wife Jan went for the wonderfully-named Chicken La Ti Dah. I think it may be West Park Lounge’s own invention or at least its own interpretation of a dish.
Certainly, if you search for this dish on the internet, West Park Lounge features heavily.
At £12.95, this was a finely-presented meal of strips of chicken, pan fried with lemon and a dash of cream, served in warm pitta bread with a wonderful mixed salad and chunky chips.
It was the best of the four main courses. Sue and Jon went for Salmone Alla Griglia (£12.95) and Filetto Manza (£17.95). The salmon was ample and tasty, again fortified by a fantastic salad, while Jon’s steak was equally well-received. When he declined the sauces, he was offered peas as an extra by the chef who came out of the kitchen especially to make the offer. That was a nice touch.
My West Park Pizza (£8.95) was a bargain by comparison with chicken, bacon, mixed peppers, barbecue sauce, mozzarella and a tomato base. It was stonebaked and freshly made. Wonderful.
We had a bottle of wine (a perfectly acceptable sauvignon blanc for £12.95) and a couple of small bottles of Moretti beer (£3.50 each).
Only two of us could manage desserts – two pieces of acceptable but not over-impressive cakes (£3.50 each) completed with cream. Acceptable but not a patch on the main courses.
Would we go again? Certainly, if only to try some of the specials which we overlooked. Tonno Puttanesca (tuna) and the rather unusual korma pasta (curry with pasta).
I must confess I thought I had invented that dish when I had very little in the larder, but I’m sure their dish tastes better than mine did.
The fish sharing platter for two (Cajun salmon, sea bass, grilled salmon, fresh mussels, crispy calamari, garlic king prawns, salad, fries and tartar sauce, all for £38) tempted one of our party but not two. Next time, we will give this fish dish a try.
We were delighted with our visit. We called towards the end of the Sunday shift after what must have been a busy weekend but we were never rushed. Our service was as good as it would have been right at the start of the weekend.
Whether it’s a lunchtime snack, or a proper meal, or a coffee, this place is keen to serve. We asked the waitress how long the business had been going. Years, she said. We expect it will be around for quite a few more years to come.
FACTFILE: WEST PARK LOUNGE
Address: West Park Lounge, 251 Otley Road, West Park, Leeds, LS16 5LQ
Telephone: 0113 274 2222
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8.30am-9pm (last food order 9pm), Sun 8.30am-6pm