A new restaurant called Rare joined the ranks of up and coming places to drink and dine in Leeds City Centre. Located in Lambert’s Yard, in between Fibre and Smokestack on Lower Briggate, it’s opened a few days ahead of a new retail and lifestyle destination, namely Lambert’s Yard, which is set to open on Wednesday 5th December.
After postponing my invitation to the press launch on Thursday due to school commitments, they very kindly allowed me to defer my invite to the public opening on Friday instead.
After following the exploits of Rare on Twitter and Facebook, I’d anticipated a number of things – that big portions, the highest quality rare breed meats and customer service would be key to their ethos. On walking into Rare I found the bar area a little sparse at first to be honest, but then I’d remembered that they’ve promised plenty of space for customers, and I liked that fact they they will have limited standing room in the bar. The room was dimly lit, with wood panelling and comfortable brown leather sofas. We were welcomed immediately by their staff and shown to a table where we could peruse their drinks list.
After ordering a bottle of Montepulciano, a little pot of hot, meaty Tamworth pork sausages were brought to our table. The combination worked really well and were polished down in a couple of minutes. A good start, it certainly whetted our appetite for more meat!
One of the key elements that the team at Rare have made integral to the bar is table service. I really liked this luxurious touch and I felt like I was being looked after, it’s one thing I could easily get used to. After being given time to settle into our surroundings, we were then escorted downstairs into the restaurant’s dining area. If it lacked anything upstairs, it was made up for downstairs where it looked classy and sophisticated, with an understated elegance. One of the things that grab your attention instantly is the taxidermi Longhorn cow called Sue, she stood proud and overlooked the dining room with an air of knowing. I thought it was a great feature. It shows the place wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve and gives an indication of the passion they have for the quality of the produce they champion.
I’d been keeping an eye on their menu and had drooled over the preview photos that they’d posted on different social media. So it didn’t take long for my friend and I to order. I liked the fact they they have a short and concise menu, with three starters and main courses divided by the primary ingredient, such as cow, pig and game. Apart from table service, another string to their bow is the use of rare breed, locally sourced meats which are known to yield a higher fat content. The reward they desire is mouthwateringly tasty dishes, and by using more traditional cooking techniques such as brining, braising and slow cooking they plan to bring out the innate flavours and textures in the meat to the fore.
Ok, I’ve banged on about the decor and Sue the Longhorn cow etc, but what really counts is how the food tastes. Well there was one word for our starters…yum! My friend’s Tamworth pork belly ribs were a joy, the meat was super moist and juicy, well flavoured and extremely moreish!! The red cabbage and pickle both worked in harmony with the pork, and had the right level of acidity to match the meat. It was also a generous portion so simply a WIN WIN on every level. My friend was certainly very happy.
I got two decent sized crisp Yorkshire puds with a deep beef, onion and porter gravy. It was tasty and rich, a good portion size again, with enough sauce to pour onto the puds. Attention to detail is obviously important here as I could pour as much sauce as I wanted, rather than having been brought soggy Yorkshire puds.
What a good start.
I could see other tables receiving their food, and I found myself following plates seemingly float from kitchen to table with an eye of distinct jealousy as we waited for our food. We had a welcome break before our main courses arrived and boy did they wow us.
Our lady had informed us that the Game pie had a filling of venison, pheasant, pigeon, mallard and partridge!! It was mahoosive, and arrived with a lovely crispy butter puff pastry top and a cranberry compote. My friend who has a large appetite found it a very large portion; it probably could have been enough for two people. The pastry was delicious, I love pastry and this was a very good one. The generous filling was rich, full of flavour and the meat was cooked accurately.
My Tamworth pork belly, was always going to be my first choice from the menu, as regular readers will know how much I LOVE pork belly. Oh my word, it was more than substantial and looked fantastic. It stood on top of a bed of thinly sliced pickled Cox English apples, and had a wholegrain mustard and cider sauce. If this wasn’t enough, the mandatory piece of decent pork crackling was placed on top, just waiting to be munched on. In terms of taste it was delicious, the pork was extremely succulent, having been slowly cooked; the meat was incredibly moist. Pork and apple are always a match made in heaven and this just reinforced this well known fact. The apples acidity aided by the cider sauce helped to cut through the richness of the meat. With a killer piece of crackling on the top, it was a cracker of a dish.
To accompany our dishes we ordered some triple cooked chips and honey glazed vegetables. The chips was excellent, they had a lovely crunch and soft centre, not too big as well. The vegetables were the only part that didn’t reach the heights of the rest of the meal, we both agreed that they were a little too al dente and needed more honey to give that gorgeous sticky sweetness.
Now we were pretty full after this, but after having a quick nosey at the desserts, and also a recommendation from our lady about their sticky pudding, we decided to go halves and share one. They thankfully allowed us a little break in between courses while we gathered our thoughts on the evening.
Once again on arrival it was a sizeable portion, so it was a good job we were sharing, because it was definitely enough for two people. I’m not normally someone who orders a sticky toffee pudding, but if they are always as good as this I may have to change this fact. The sponge served at the right temperature was perfect and light, they hadn’t scrimped on the sauce and was so good!! Sweet enough to make it you want to saturate your sponge with as much sauce as possible. A lovely Cox apple ice-cream and cinder toffee just topped off a fantastic meal.
In terms of value Rare have priced their menu very reasonably and with the quality of produce on offer, you’ll get served well and leave very satisfied indeed with these great tasting dishes. We had a very enjoyable experience and will definitely be back for more meat! I’ll be wanting to try out some of their cocktails and drinks from their well-stocked bar next time.
I would definitely recommend Rare.
Food: Generous portions, great tastes and very satisfying. Plenty for the hungry carnivore, but more thought is needed for extending the choice for non-meat eaters.
Atmosphere: Dining room has a lovely, relaxed feel, elegant and sophisticated.
Service: Staff were friendly, observant, knowledgable and efficient, without being over fussy.RARE Lamberts Yard 163 Lower Briggate Leeds LS1 6LY 0113 246 7013 http://www.eatdrinkrare.com Featured image: courtesy of RARE