Mr Smith goes to the Arts Cafe Bar in Leeds, lots of times
When you travel a lot for work, staying in hotels, you need to find yourself a good place to go for a warm welcome with good food and drink, without breaking the bank…
A part of my work involves having to work away at times, which has mainly been in Leeds. People tend to think that business travel can be glamorous, but they are generally people that do not do it or do not do it regularly.
It normally involves very early starts, long days and nights in hotels alone. So my solution to this is to make sure I find great places to eat and give myself a focus for the evening. When I first started going to Leeds I had to find good places to go and eat and tried a few places, generally good, but then I heard about Crafthouse. At the time it had only just opened, so I thought I would check it out and see what it was like. It is part of the D & D London group and their first regional restaurant so I was confident that the quality would be good.
I was so quick off the mark with going that no one in the office knew about it at the time, but they do now, probably sick of me telling them what I had to eat but I know some have also been now and enjoyed it.
One thing that I generally try and avoid is to go to the same place a lot of times as I like to explore and try different places, but with Crafthouse I have broken that rule.
Every meal I have had has been great, it started well and just got better. I knew on my second visit it was going to be a good place to go back too, especially when the waiter had remembered which wine I had on the first visit and asked if I wanted the same or to try something different. It is those touches that make such a big difference to the dinning experience. That has been continued all the way through, to the point that on my last visit the waitress remembered which main course I had 2 months before hand! That was more than I could do, but when I looked back at my pictures she was absolutely spot on.
From that initial visit I have also had the pleasure of getting to know a few of the staff, including Lee the Executive Chef and it has become a place where just about everyone knows my name, from the point of entering where Georgina greets this Mr Smith, to Tom the assistant manager who always makes sure I am looked after and Lee the chef.
I have the pleasure of sitting at the chefs bar normally, which means that I can sit and watch what is happening in the kitchen and also talk to the staff when they have time. They are all so good with the service, but also knowledgeable and passionate about food and wine.
The last visit I had was quite possibly the best, but it might be the last (for now anyway) as the contract I am on is finishing, so not sure whether I will be back in Leeds or not, but I could be tempted to go up for a weekend in the future or find a reason for a meeting back in Leeds.
I was hungry but not feeling very decisive so I left it in the hands of Tom to sort out the dishes for me and a great job he did. The first pictures here are from that last meal, but there are others from previous ones.
As it was potentially my last night I had to start with a glass of fizz, a lovely glass of Vouvray
Which was followed by the first of the small selection that Tom gave me which was a delicious Foie Gras & Spiced Confit Duck Terrine. Next up is not going to be everyones taste, but I love it. Steak Tartare with a Quails Egg. Do not be put off by raw meat and egg and give it a go! I firmly believe you should try all types of food at least once. If you try and do not like then that is fine, but if you do not try at all then you never know what you could be missing out on.
Following on the heels of that was a Scallop Risotto, so tasty and cooked to perfection and then a messy but lovely King Prawns in garlic butter and Aioli
That was the starters done and they were followed by the main of Slow Braised Pork Belly with Spinach and Roast Celeriac. Rich, tasty and delicious
Surely there was no room left and I was thinking do not have any more, but I got tempted by the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream. I just could not help myself and there were no regrets eating it as it was so tasty, but I could not move for the rest of the night and basically just lay on the hotel bed when I got back there.
That was it, I had to say my goodbyes to Tom and the team. It had been a great evening with lovely food and wine. Thanks to them all
All the below are from various previous evenings and where I can remember I have noted what it was