Ambiente Tapas Restaurant

A lovely Sunday deserved a good dinner to round it all off with, I’d read a tweet the day before about a tapas restaurant called Ambiente on the Calls, next to Brasserie 44 and The Calls Landing. It had been a pop-up restaurant in the past and I hadn’t realised it had reopened until I’d seen the tweet so I duly booked a table. It occupies the space of a couple of old Leeds favourites – The Calls Grill (which was a personal favourite of mine and River Plate, the Argentinean steakhouse).

IMG_2929The menu is divided into nibbles and sharing platters, paella, meat, fish, vegetarian tapas and a meat or vegetarian tapas set meal for £25/£24 for 2 people respectively.

IMG_2936 IMG_2930

The waitress said to order 3 dishes each so we decided on a mixture of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.

After our drinks arrived (white wine and water, I was the designated driver so water was my tipple for the night), we did wait quite a long time for any food to arrive, between 25-30 minutes. It wasn’t particularly busy yet as it was only the early evening. Maybe that’s the reason we’d been asked if we wanted any bread beforehand, I didn’t really want to be too full so I declined. I did see other people’s food go passed us and it did look and smell good, so I was certainly looking forward to eating it, but to be honest when it arrived I wasn’t completely blown away by it all.

My favourite dishes were the lamb patties with chimchurri which had lots of flavour, the yoghurt really worked well with the soft patties. The meatballs were also very good, with its creamy, thai inspired sauce. The lemongrass and chilli were both distinct flavours in the sauce without masking the flavour of the meatballs. A shame there was only 3 little morsels to feast on. The patatas bravas, a tapas staple were decent enough, the potatoes were well cooked but the tomato sauce was a little nondescript.

Patatas bravas - crispy potatoes with a tomato sauce
Patatas bravas – crispy potatoes with a tomato sauce
Meatballs in a chilli and lemongrass sauce
Meatballs in a chilli and lemongrass sauce
Lamb patties with chimchurri
Lamb patties with chimchurri

Of all the dishes I was most looking forward to I would say the slow cooked belly pork, being brought up in a Chinese family on belly pork I’m always salivating at the thought of a slice of yummy pork, but unfortunately was a little disappointed. A good belly pork must have a slightly salty crispy skin, otherwise it just doesn’t cut the mustard for me. The skin wasn’t crispy at all and the meat could have also done with more oomph in terms of flavour, more cumin and salt as was stated on the menu. The prawns were cooked well and tasted fine, but could have done with more a lot more chilli and garlic. While the pork skewers were a little dry, their saving grace was the piquillo mayonnaise accompaniment which was very tasty!!!

Moorish pork skewers served with piquillo mayonnaise
Pork skewers served with piquillo mayonnaise
Slow cooked belly pork with cumin and salt
Slow cooked belly pork with cumin and salt
Shelled prawns cooked with garlic and chilli
Shelled prawns cooked with garlic and chilli

On the whole the bill for 6 dishes with 2 glasses of wine was £37.85 for two people, not including a tip. I’m glad I tried it out as the waiting staff are friendly, helpful and the place has a nice atmosphere. Hopefully if I come again the service (from the kitchen) will be a bit quicker and the food packs more of a punch in flavour and consistency.

36-38 The Calls
0113 246 1848

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