I’ve been very lacklustre about the Leeds food scene recently. The latest additions in Trinity are just your bog standard chains, you know what to expect (I have to be dragged in kicking and screaming most of the time) and I’ve found Cielo Blanco to just be “ok” at best – nothing to write home about as my parents would say, and absolutely incomparable to the fresh and delicious food served up at Pinche Pinche of course. If only that had a city centre location.
Fortunately there’s a new contender on the scene – Shears Yard. From the makers of the Arts Cafe, it is “fine dining without the stuffiness”. And most definitely the new trendy modern decor alludes to that. Set in the location of the former dearly departed Livebait, all the lovely exposed brickwork is still there but there’s now polished grey concrete flooring, coordinating grey seats and nice hardwood tables that lift the colours up. The natural light from the roof area gives the place an airy ambience during the day and the low hung, stylish exposed bulbs create the perfect mood into the evening.
We were greeted with a glass of bubbles which always gets the night off to a good start, before being seated at our table and served confit of garlic butter with slices of ciabatta. The garlic butter was so incredibly smooth (very similar to aioli) – both in taste and texture, and though undeniably bad for you I could not stop scooping it up using my bread rather than politely spreading it on using a knife. The flavour was all there but didn’t leave me feeling “OhmigodIjustAteGarlicIneedABreathMint”. The sprinkle of salt flakes on the top really enhanced the flavour too.
For starter I ordered the “Scallops old fashioned: Bowmore whisky & orange glazed king scallop, toasted oats and haggis boudin” – a beautiful melange of flavours that did not disappoint. The scallops were sweet, perfectly cooked and silky to the touch. The orange in the glaze was so subtle but so wonderful. The haggis boudin was incredible too – softly braised in the centre and just a little crunch on the edges for good texture contrast.
Mr LTT ordered the “Pressed terrine of poached chicken, chorizo “crisps”, black garlic, pickled red peppers and manchego sable biscuits” – the chicken pieces were the perfect size so you could still chew the soft, delicate meat and the chorizo went down a treat too. Mr LTT commented how it had been perfectly seasoned – something he is somewhat obsessive about.
For main I ordered “Fillet of Butchers farmers beef, bone marrow &’ oxtail croquettes, slow cooked shallots, oxtail jus & watercress emulsion”. The fillet had been beautifully executed with medium-rare doneness and it did really had a good old-fashioned hearty beef flavour. All the meat is free-range and all the ingredients are locally sourced with a nod to low environmental impact, something which ticks all the boxes for me. The oxtail jus on the side was a damn good northern portion – although rich, it had the perfect thickness (covers the back of a spoon) and I probably would have licked the plate clean if we were not in polite company. The croquettes were out of this world – the outside had a firm crunchy bite that didn’t go away even when I covered them in the jus, the inside shredded meat of flavour so beefy but still a good contrast to the fillet, with a delicate sweetness which mixed perfectly with the watercress. The emulsion was as smooth as the confit pre-starter – I kept thinking “dang, they must have a good blender”. Yes, these are the things that go through my head! It looked so pretty on my plate too.
The “pistachio tortellini, roast chestnuts & king oyster mushrooms, tarragon butter, parmesan crisp & puree” was one of the most perfectly complex dishes I might have ever tasted (although I only had a couple of mouthfuls!). When it comes to nuts and mushrooms, I’m on dodgy ground as to flavour matching but I knew this tasted wonderful. The flavours complemented each other well – the parmesan crisp really gave a nice salty edge to the earthy mushrooms. I’m afraid I can’t go into too much more into the description as when I asked Mr LTT for his review he just said “it tastes really good” which isn’t much to go on really. A vegetarian dish of particular excellence it is, proving that you don’t need meat to create something amazing.
Although at this point we were pretty full, it’s rude not to accept the offer of pudding – I myself ordered the chocolate tart with blackberries and various blackberry accompaniments (sorry I don’t have a full description as not got a copy of the dessert menu). The chocolate was dense but not as rich as I had expected (which was good) – the glossiness of it looked amazing as I drove my fork into it. There was a chocolate that contained a blackberry creme (I think) and when combined with the tart, really lightened the flavour. The creme was almost a bit fizzy like a good frizzante which lifted the heaviness of the tart.
Mr LTT ordered the passionfruit creme brulee with crumble topping and white chocolate sorbet. The crumble was quite tart with passionfruit flavour which was a good contrast to the creme brulee. The sorbet was so incredibly delicious, I don’t think I’ve ever tried anything like that before. It was not creamy but the flavour from the white chocolate was so intense. I’ve had so many things with white chocolate where you just can’t taste it at all. A truly sensational dessert. The only downside was the brulee was not quite set, but Mr LTT reassured me it still tasted good.
I mustn’t forget to say that the bar is fully stocked with lots of wonderful ales and some very tasty cocktails – one of which is the Pisco Disco featured below. The cocktails are playful and exciting and there’s plenty of space to sit if you just want to go in for a drink rather than food.
I am honestly not lying when I say that this is probably ones of the best meals I’ve eaten in Leeds since I went to Sara Danesin Medio’s supper club in February. They will be changing the menu on a fortnightly basis, using seasonal goods so you won’t get bored of what’s on offer. I for one can’t wait to go back!
I guess you will want to know about pricing too. Starters begin at £5.95 rising to £8.50 (that was the scallops). Mains range from £10.95 to £16.95 (although my beef fillet dish was £21.95). I think this is very fair pricing for such great food and not much more than Arts Cafe. They are also open for lunch!
You can find Shears Yard on The Calls and on the Shears Yard website.
Disclaimer: Whilst our meal was complimentary, I was not required to be complimentary!