It was Friday late afternoon and I was home alone, plans with the best mate were cancelled and my husband was visiting his best mate. So what to do for dinner, I couldn’t be bothered cooking for one so went to the old faithful twitter for advice in my moment of need!! Thankfully @LeedsFoodnDrink came to the rescue. They asked if I to wanted to stay in or go out and I’d replied the latter. I realised the other day after reading an article about dining solo that I’m more than happy dining out alone just as much as I do with my mates, I don’t really know why that is, but I do. A few minutes later they tweeted back suggesting the Reliance. I’ve been to the Reliance many times and always had a good time whether it be a sunday brunch/lunch/dinner, so when the suggestion popped up on my twitter feed I quickly said ‘yes’.
I headed into town and arrived before it got too busy, it was Friday evening and all so I knew if I was going on spec I’d need to head down early-ish. The Reliance always has a very relaxed feel to it, it has a nice open bar area, the main dining room is up a few steps, a private dining room for parties and a smaller sitting room with comfy leather chairs. The place is very open with lots of light coming from it’s huge windows, and the main dining room has really blossomed since they knocked a wall down and made the space a lot bigger. The kitchen is far more open than it used to be and feels like a more welcoming space. The place is decked out simply with lots of wooden tables and mismatched chairs which I like, it’s not pretending to be something it isn’t.
They have a lovely menu, not just the usual pub grub, they try to a bit more adventurous and even produce their own charcuterie in situ, using Yorkshire rare breed meat. I was so tempted to have a little platter to start with, but I thought better of it having already spoken about it glowingly at another Leeds favourite Friends of Ham. The Reliance provide the Fennel Salami and Coppa for their delicious Yorkshire Board.
After a long look at the menu and their specials board, I finally chose the cod and crab cake followed by the aubergine parmigiana. I’d had parmigiana in a few other eateries in town and thought it would be interesting to compare them.
I happily tucked into the fresh bread that was placed on my table while the starter was being prepared. I was really looking forward to it and when it arrived I was very happy. They were great, perfectly cooked little fish cakes, really moist and both main components were balanced and their flavours could be picked out with ease. I really liked the smokey chilli jam, the smokiness really came through, but didn’t mask the flavour of the fish and the chilli gave a huge smack of heat to the dish. My only gripe would be that I wish the portion size was a little bigger, with three fish cakes instead of two, as they were small.
The aubergine parmigiana arrived, first it was a little difficult to eat just because of the pot it was baked in, it was very tomatoey and had a lot of sauce, quite a bit of cheese and the aubergine tasted good but wasn’t as soft as I may have expected it to be. The caponata was nice and chunky, I’m not the greatest lover of olives, so I could pick them out and eat the capers, onions and aubergines which were lovely and soft, but still retain some of the umaminess from the olives. The caponata had a nice sharpness to it, and wasn’t swimming in oil which was a good thing. I loved the focaccia, I think it was the best bit, lovely and soft middle, with good flavour from olives and was great for mopping up the tasty oil from the caponata and tomato sauce in my pot. I’ve eaten parmigiana in a few other places in town and this tasted good, but I preferred the others just because I like a little less sauce and for slightly softer aubergine.
The service is always good here, whether you’re at the bar or eating, they are friendly, relaxed and informative when needed. I especially like the staff here because they don’t fuss around you. Apart from the food they are marked highly in the drinks stakes, with a good wine list and arguably an even better beer and lager list. It’s got lots of variety and the place host guest ales and ciders on a regular basis, making use of the talent from local independent breweries.
Next week they are holding an evening with Knaresborough based Rooster’s Brewery, showcasing their food in a four course menu and food matching with their ales.
I’d recommend The Reliance, it’s a place where you can sit and read your morning paper with a coffee, have a lazy lunch whilst people watching with friends, have dinner and stay into the evening or dine solo like I did. Total cost was £19.40 (without service charge).
Atmosphere: Relaxed, informal
Value for money: More than you’d pay for in a bog standard pub, but tastes great!The Reliance 76-78 North St Leeds LS2 7PN 0113 295 6060