After months of eagerly awaiting news of their opening, Shears Yard opened on the 29th of August. For those of you who don’t know this is the new sister restaurant of the popular Art’s Cafe bar and Restaurant in Leeds City Centre. Over the past year there seems to have been a mini explosion regarding fine dining in Leeds, and I wasn’t sure if Leeds had a big enough appetite for another one.
The people at Shears Yard had organised a launch night on the 28th, and as a relatively new person to the blogging world I was delighted to get an invite to the event. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the original launch night, so was very pleased when I was allowed to defer my invitation to the following week. Even though I was going to be back in the throws of crazy school hours again, I snapped the opportunity up with both hands!
Shears Yard has been newly housed in the building which once was the home of seafood restaurant Livebait, on Wharf Street in the Calls. The ethos of the new kitchen is to deliver a fresh and seasonal menu using intriguing ingredient combinations, all sourced from local suppliers. The building dates back to the 1800s and was formerly owned by a rope and canvas manufacturer. As you walk towards the restaurant they have installed an imposing concrete structure in front of the main entrance, which could fit in very nicely at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It will soon carry its new signage and I’m sure it will do a good job at attracting lots of hungry diners.
On entering the building I could see they’ve gone for a very modern, sleek look, with polished grey concrete floors, stylish unfussy seating and lovely wooden tables, all which really suit the feel of the place. The dining room is very light, especially with the sky lights letting in tons of light. The natural brickwork has been retained, but I was pleased to see the old Livebait tiling had gone. I’d spent many an enjoyable evening at Livebait in the past, but times have changed and I definitely feel the new space looks wonderful. Yes, it may be the newly born sister of the much loved Arts Cafe, but you can sense immediately this place is going off in a different direction to its older sibling.
On arrival we were warmly greeted and as we were a little early ordered drinks at the bar. My friend was really pleased to see local Yorkshire lager on tap, brewed in Huddersfield, standing shoulder to shoulder with other well known lagers.
A few minutes later we were seated, our lady quickly brought over some water for the table and a bread board with fresh granary bread and a black garlic and mushroom butter. The butter was smooth and packed with woody mushroomy goodness.
Their menu has lots of interesting sounding dishes and uses local ingredients, their aim is to use seasonal ingredients and regularly change the dishes in order to use the best ingredients available throughout the year. Starters range from £5.50 – £8.50, main courses were £10.95 – 21.95 and desserts £5.50 – £7.95. We chose confit sea trout and scallops to start with and fillet of beef and turbot for the main course.
Our starters arrived looking pretty as a picture, I had singled out the scallops on my first glance at the menu. Oh my these were good! Moist and cooked to perfection, scallopy sweet and I loved the whisky and orange glaze which could in the wrong hands have been overpowering, but instead was handled with a deft touch. The haggis was something of a revelation to me, I was a haggis virgin and it really complemented the scallop, providing the yummy meaty, savoury partnership a scallop needs to feel complete. The topping of toasted oats finished the dish with a little crunch.
My friends starter of confit sea trout was also well received, the fish was moist and flavourful with a trout crackling, as thin and crisp as you’d like giving a another texture, the aerated piccalilli sauce was creamy and had the right level of acidity for the dish. Both were tasty dishes to start with.
The restaurant soon started to fill up and the atmosphere definitely changed as the evening kicked in, where the really cool low hung lighting came into its own. Service was friendly and our main courses arrived, we’d waited patiently both anticipating great plates of food. We weren’t disappointed when they arrived.
Both dishes came out looking beautiful, in particular my dish of the fillet of beef. On first inspection the beef looked lovely and pink, the croquettes looked crispy with their golden brown exterior and the oxtail jus looked rich and glossy. Looking good so far, on first tasting it got even better….beef was so tender and was packed full of meaty goodness, the first words I uttered were ‘oh that is so good!!!’. I love deep fried goodies, especially those covered in breadcrumbs and these bone marrow and oxtail croquettes were REALLY yummy!!! Crunchy on the outside and the meat had enough give on the inside and plenty of distinctive oxtail flavour, I tried my best to be a good girl and savour them, when all I really wanted to do was pop them in my mouth one after another! The slow cooked shallots added another dimension to the dish with their sweetness, the watercress emulsion was silky smooth and gave a light refreshing pepperiness, this gave good balance to the dish overall. Oh I mustn’t forget the jus, it was fabulous. It came in its own pouring jug and there was plenty of it, I like that!! It had the perfect consistency, was rich in meaty flavour and glossy in appearance.
My friends turbot was lovely and soft, the fricassee was creamy and rich with moist chicken and earthy wild mushrooms, while the young carrots were well cooked and sweet. A very tasty dish by all accounts as it was eaten in probably half the time that mine was!!!
After being so impressed by our experience so far, we thought it would be frankly rude not to give the dessert menu a look and we found some little gems.
I’m not usually a dessert fan but I prefer something light if I do, so the grapefruit posset looked like a good choice after a meaty main course. It looked really pretty and summery. The posset was light, refreshing, silky smooth with the slight sharpness from the grapefruit, the ice cream was creamy, well made and a good partner to the fruit with its delicate minty freshness. The pistachio coral gave some crunch to the dessert and overall was well balanced in terms of flavour and texture. I would say it was just what the doctor ordered!!
My friends chocolate tart was really good, quite rich and glossy. Topped with a disc of blackberry jelly which had lots of fruit flavour and worked well with the dense chocolate. The banana choc ice was a delightful surprise, when broken into with a fork it revealed some sort of banana goodness that he couldn’t quite put his finger on which was able to make the dessert a little lighter.
At the end of our meal we both were full and we went home very satisfied indeed!! Our meal was complimentary but this did not influence our comments of the evening in any way.
Fine dining heavyweights, such as Crafthouse and Angelica in Trinity Leeds have opened in the last year, both of which I have had niggles with. I did wonder whether Leeds would have a big enough appetite for another fine dining establishment, after our experience it certainly looks like it has been welcomed with open arms. I for one will certainly be back and will be highly recommending it!!
Food: Looks and more importantly tastes great, well-sourced local produce.
Service: Friendly, attentive without being over fussy.
Atmosphere: Has a nice open and relaxed feel to the place.
Shears Yard11-15 Wharf St The Calls Leeds LS2 7EH 0113 2444144 http://www.shearsyard.com