This was my second time at Dough Bistro, and I’d brought along the original Miss Tale of Two Sittings with me for the ride. As a self confessed foodie, this could have been blogging suicide for me – what if she didn’t like it? Had Dough already peaked? What if they served us Pot Noodle?
These thoughts ran through my head as we entered the restaurant and were met by the extremely friendly staff, who asked which cocktail we’d like. With a thirst quenching choice ahead of us, I plumped for the oak-smoked margarita with lime salt, whilst my companion Diane chose the rhubarb caviar and ginger mojito. Both cocktails were good – possibly not the most attractively presented, but it was a tasty aperitif.
Promised with a ‘Molecular Menu’, we were thrilled with the pretty little amuse bouche which was a croquette of camembert and dehydrated olive, with a chilli jam and a pea puree. The difference in texture and taste in such a small dish was a sign of good things to come.
We were right: our first dish was a deconstructed prawn cocktail and it was described on the menu, it had prawns, tomato sand, lettuce, Marie Rose foam and cucumber gel – less 1970’s dinner party, more postmodernist art on a plate.
The presentation was beautiful and the taste of the juicy prawns in the creamy sauce were evocative of the familiar crowd pleaser, pepped up with the clean and fresh hit of the cucumber gel. The tomato sand was a conundrum though – it was white, grainy yet melted immediately on the tongue. Though pleasant tasting, it didn’t really taste like tomato – I’m not sure what it tasted of, and it seemed a little like a lost opportunity.
The second dish was called Garden in a pickle, and it was like we had entered Lilliput in Gulliver’s Travels.
The plate was again immaculately presented with tiny plant pots which, I was regrettably informed, were inedible. The rest, however, was fair game. So we had black olive soil, which was a novelty but also delicious, pickled vegetables like spring onion, beetroot, cornichons, icicle radish and capers which had a great piquancy, which cut through the rich, creamy goat’s cheese foam. Along with toasted pumpkin seeds, this dish was an exciting little treat, not meant to fill you up but more to tease the taste buds for the next course. The size of the dish also makes you savour the small portion, and the top quality of the food.
Next up to further our gastronomic journey was ‘Ham and Cheese’. Obviously not just Ham and Cheese, I hear you cry! Well, you’d be right (and thanks for playing along!).
We were dealing with Yorkshire ham, capers, white truffle snow (akin to the tomato sand, slightly vague and tasteless) and, I’ll give you a minute to digest this…parmesan crisp and ice cream! Yep…you read it right! Again, the plate was very attractive and on first taste, the salty ham and cool yet pleasantly savoury ice cream worked extremely well together. The capers cut through the creaminess and the quality of the meat was very high – a worthy adversary to Parma ham. The only drawback of the dish was the quantity of the ice cream to the ham: once it melted, it overpowered the dish and it was hard to taste anything but parmesan. The crisp also lacked eponymous crispiness – the fact it was thick and chewy was not pleasant and coupled with the growing puddle of parmesan cream, it took over the individual tastes of the dish.
What helped though was the palate cleansing sorbet that followed up this course. A mix of tart grapefruit and a VERY generous serving of rum, this cut through the dairy richness of the last course, and prepared us for the curious next course.
‘Own made spaghetti’ was served up, with a sous vide pork belly bathed in a saffron consommé. Beautifully clear consommé was the base for the ‘lobster spaghetti’, which we served ourselves from small syringes. We were reliably informed that our lobster spaghetti was created from a lobster infused puree mixed with methyl cellulose which creates a solid form when it hits the consommé.
Whilst a wonderful novelty, neither of us were able to taste the lobster in this so called spaghetti and felt that it didn’t add much to the dish. The real star of the dish was the pork though, being slow cooked in a water bath for 12-14 hours. It was so tender that it sang Luther Vandross songs…ok, so that’s not technically true, but it is a metaphor that suits the purpose. The pork was delicious.
The dessert was billed as a ‘Chocolate surprise’ which always makes me suspicious, because I would always call my own cooking a surprise, basically to cover up the fact that I don’t really know what the outcome will be. Usually it is edible….usually. When the plate arrived, we actually had a very elegant looking plate which consisted of a chocolate pave, with white chocolate gold covered pebbles, popping candy and a raspberry ravioli, created from puree cooked in calcium. The pave was tasty and had an interesting chewy oaty base, which worked extremely well with the fruity explosion of the ravioli. It wasn’t the most innovative dessert, and seemed like a stroll towards the end of the meal rather than a sprint finish, but then what do I know? – I’m mixing metaphors all over the place!
Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening with some extremely interesting and delicious dishes. Dough is a hidden gem in Leeds. Whilst I know it has won awards, it seemed sadly quiet whilst we were dining, which is a shame. Although a few of the dishes could do with some slight improvements, the overall feel of the place, the staff and the quality of the cooking is second to none. Exciting gastronomy is practised here; I will definitely be going back for more.
Dough Bistro293-295 Spen Lane West Park Leeds LS16 5BD 0113 278 7255 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.doughleeds.com