For the first meal of the year I decided to go back to Shears Yard in Leeds city centre. After it’s opening in August 2013, it’s reputation of providing a fantastic dining experience has made it one of the best places to eat in Leeds. When I first visited in September it certainly made a huge impression on me and I as hoping for a similar experience. We’d asked my in-laws out for dinner, they tend to eat out a lot, especially now in retirement, so I was expecting lots of comments/opinions about the food. Just before the meal I got a welcome surprise email in my inbox, 50% discount off the food. BONUS, especially just being after the Christmas period!!
It was a squally Friday evening, so armed with my discount we arrived at Shears Yard and were relieved to get inside. On arrival it looked as lovely as it did the first time, I still love the space with it’s cool lighting and simple, but stylish interior. We ordered drinks at the bar and as we were a little early we waited till 7:30pm, before sitting at our table.
The New Zealand Riesling we ordered at the bar was excellent. I’m a big fan of dry white wines and this was ideal. Very quaffable with its citrus and fruity aromas, but it was also reasonably priced at £18.
When we sat down at our table a lady brought over a jug of water that we’d requested, and a board with tomato bread and a salsa verde butter to start us off with. The bread was lovely and moist, and the butter was creamy, but for me could have been a little saltier with capers.
The menu at Shears Yard shows lots of unusual ingredient combinations, using local, seasonal produce which is part of their ethos and drives their menu. We quickly eyed up our dishes and within a few minutes made our choices.
When our starters arrived they looked great, three of us had ordered scallops, and the other half fancied a prawn dish. First they looked beautiful, we all dove straight into them (after I took my obligatory photos, which I do apologise for because they are not the best). The scallops were cooked accurately and were just opaque in the middle and soft. It’s the starter I had on my first visit, so I try to compare it to that, when I absolutely loved them. The oat crust still worked really well in terms of interest, giving it texture and the orange and whiskey glaze is just right. The haggis was rich and intense, to the point that for some diners it was a little overpowering by the end of the dish.
The prawn dish was demolished in a matter of minutes, my other half enjoyed it a lot, but he would have preferred more prawns and less salmon. Nevertheless, it was all well cooked, with the salmon being nicely cured and the purée had a good mix of sweetness from the pea, whilst also having the wasabi heat.
The wine was flowing freely and the first course had gone down well, apart from a couple of very picky things. The room started to fill a little more adding to the atmosphere, so by the time our main courses arrived it was quite busy. These also looked very good, this time two diners had ordered pork, while the fillet of beef and turbot dishes were also ordered.
On the opposite side of the table were the pork dishes, the other half was one of these diners and he’s a major carnivore, so if he likes it, it has to be good!! The first indication that I can tell it’s good is if he’s basically eating non-stop, which he was. The second thing is when I ask him how his dish is I get one word, if I’m lucky a two word response. This is what I got. In fact both diners loved it, each component was cooked perfectly, the accompaniments all worked well together and complemented the dish. Some triple cooked chips were ordered on the side, I’m really fussy when it comes to chips and in my opinion not many restaurants actually make good ones. The others thought they were good, but for me some are too big and inconsistent in size. In terms of the triple cooking, it did the trick in terms of texture – they were fluffy in the middle, but had a lovely crispness to their exterior.
My father in-law’s fillet of beef looked good, I remember I’d eaten a fillet of beef dish last time, that time I thought it was an amazing dish with the right amount of elements.
His opinion was that the fillet had been cooked to perfection, medium rare as requested, so it passed the first test, the second test would be the flavour of the meat, after the first bite he said it was wonderful. Virtually all components married well together, the pommes Anna potato were particularly good. But, if there was one niggle, it would be the beef brisket bourginon, which he felt didn’t quite work with the rest of dish. He said he was being really picky though and loved the dish on the whole.
I’d chosen the fillet of turbot from the menu and once placed in front of me I got an immediate hit from the irresistible spicing.
The turbot was delicious and cooked perfectly, accompanied by the passanda it sat on which was full flavoured. I did struggle to get any crab though, which may have gotten lost amongst the spicing of the dish. The aubergine bhaji was great and gave the dish texture, just right to match the soft textures of the fish and passanda. What I really liked were what I think we’re golden raisins in the passanda, so every now and then was a little pop of fruity goodness. They really helped to cut through the richness of the dish.
We had a look at the dessert menu, even though they had a selection of five desserts to choose from, it would have nicer to have more choice within it, as three of these were sponge based and were thought to be too heavy.
The other half did spot a panacotta, which is one of his favourites, so just one of us ordered a dessert. On it’s arrival it was presented in a glass tumbler, rather than a plate.
The panacotta was topped with pieces of honeycomb and a sorbet and to get to the panacotta you had to get passed this and the salted popcorn too. I could tell that it was a bit of a disappointment which was a shame, the other half said the panacotta wasn’t quite set and was a little sloppy. For him it was too complicated with too many flavours going on, it was a bit of a battle to reach the panacotta which should have been the star of the dish. The best bit was probably the honeycomb, which I can vouch for as being very yummy and not too sweet.
Overall, we did enjoy our meal a lot, even though there were things that we would have changed. The consensus from the table was that the starters were good, the main courses great, while the dessert was disappointing.
The service was excellent throughout, being friendly, attentive and efficient.
Perhaps my review is being overly critical here, but only as I hold the restaurant in such high regard, as described in my previous visit. Personally, even though my second experience didn’t wow me like my first, I’d still RECOMMEND Shears Yard as they are producing innovative dishes and trying to push boundaries.
11-15 Wharf Street
0113 2444 144