Last weekend, we were lucky enough to talk my folks into babysitting while Mr and I went on a Yorkshire adventure, spending an afternoon shopping in Leeds before hitting a nice restaurant for dinner, and topping it off with an overnight stay at a posh hotel.
After a relaxing drive down, we arrived in Leeds at lunchtime, and decided to find something to eat. While I usually prefer to dine in independent restaurants given the chance, as opposed to anonymous chains, coming from a small city means that many of the nice chain eateries haven’t reached us. I love Japanese food, and I really wanted to introduce Mr to the delights of Wagamamma’s, so it was decided. A pleasantly relaxed shared lunch ensued, and the chilli squid was a particular delight for both of us. Lunch done, it was time for a little recreational spending – there were a few things I was on the lookout for, which I hadn’t been able to get at home, and it would have been impertinent of me to refuse the opportunity to shop when it was presented so graciously!
When our feet began to ache from spending an afternoon treading the pavements, we decided that we would go and get our bags from the car and head to 42 The Calls to check in. On arrival, it transpired that our room wasn’t quite ready yet, but we were offered a glass of wine to enjoy in the honesty bar while we waited. The reception area of the hotel was very stylish and comfortable, and we sat and chatted in comfort, using the complimentary wifi to plan our evening, until we were able to go to our room. Being a converted mill on the banks of Leeds’ River Aire, the hotel is full of character, with winding corridors and low ceilings. Our room was gorgeous, and the shortbread and fudge in the room was a nice touch – we munched on both with a cup of tea while we relaxed and freshened up. We had a river view room, and the view from our window, looking fown the river, was lovely.
After a quick shower and throwing on a nice frock, Mr and I set off for our grown up night out, see what the delights of Leeds had to offer. Our first stop was the highly recommended Shears Yard, over the road from the hotel. This restaurant and bar is just our style, and I was disappointed not to have been able to book a table when we’d phoned them a couple of weeks earlier. I was very glad to have called in for a superb G&T and Mr indulged in some local ale – I’d recommend it for pre (or post) dinner drinks any day. The bar staff were very friendly and just the right amount of chatty, and a spot of people watching in the bar provided a perfect start to our evening.
Dinner was booked for 8pm, and on the amble to Loch Fyne we looked in at Hirsts Yard, which is a lovely bar, tucked away down a cobbled lane. As it was still early, it was pleasantly quiet, although I suspect it gets a bit more lively as the evening progresses. From there we wandered up to Loch Fyne, in City Square. The building in which Loch Fyne is situated is rather grand, having been the old post office, and inside doesn’t disappoint either. The staircase which greets you as you go in the main door is spectacular. The menu was varied, and everything sounded delicious – I confess that both of us had a hard time deciding! The starter was easiest for me, as I am a total mussel-lover, so the Scottish mussels in white wine and cream (moule mariniere, by any other name) stood out to me. It didn’t let me down, and I confess to slurping up some of the sauce as if it was soup once my bread and mussels had been devoured. Mr chose the smoked salmon ashet, and declared it to be delectable! The mains were trickier to choose, but eventually I settled on a choice from the fish bar – grilled gilt-head bream, with chilli and coriander butter, samphire and twice cooked chips (ok, so it was posh fish and chips). It was so good! Cooked to perfection, and full of flavour. On Mr’s side of the table was seared pole and line caught yellow fin tuna with king prawns, clams, egg noodles, pak choi, red chilli and chilli marmalade – the sauce alone was to die for and he wolfed it down. We also ordered a seafood medley to share, mainly because I felt in need of scallops (hmmmm… scallops).
Having thoroughly enjoyed dinner, we were a little full for pudding (that kind of pleasantly full of good food, where you know you’ll ruin it if you have more) so we took a stroll back to the hotel and popped back in to Shear’s Yard for a cheeky cocktail. Knowing we had an early morning the following day, we headed back to 42 The Calls, so we’d be fresh as a daisy for our trip to the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate.
The downside to the river view room was that on the opposite bank of the River Aire is Brewery Wharf, and unfortunately there was a great deal of noise from the revellers until the early (and not so early!) hours. Thankfully the comfort of the bed lulled me back to sleep each time I was woken.
We rose bright and early to grab a bite of breakfast, which we were promised is “one of the best breakfasts you will ever experience”. As something of a sausage connoisseur (the best Cumberland sausages I’ve tasted can be found at Great Orton near Carlisle) I was excited by the promise of the extensive sausage menu offered by 42 The Calls, and chose Cumberland (naturally) and Yorkshire sausages, to go with my cooked breakfast of poached egg, bacon, black pudding, mushroom and tomatoes. I declined the egg fried bread, as I’m more of a toast kind of girl. Mr decided on a more adventurous (but less breakfast-y, in my opinion) option of lamb and rosemary and venison, with soft boiled eggs, and all the other trimmings. We were brought our tea and toast, and nibbled on a pastry from the selection as we waited. When our breakfasts arrived, they looked very tasty, although the sausage order had got mixed up between the plates, and they had given me fried bread anyway. We soon fixed that, though, and tucked in. Sadly the venison sausage Mr had ordered seemed to have been replaced with another variety as it didn’t taste anything like venison, but the lamb and rosemary was very nice, and the Cumberland and Yorkshire sausages I had were perfectly tasty. The eggs turned out to be a disappointment for both of us – my poached eggs were verging on inedible due to the vinegar in the poaching water, but I managed to dip my toast in a yolk. The soft boiled eggs Mr had requested were hard, and so they were left uneaten too. The toast, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and black pudding were all good, and satisfied my grumbling tummy very well.
On checking out, I realised I’d left my favourite scarf in the honesty bar but thankfully the same lovely receptionist was on duty, and had kept it for me – phew! Despite living in Bradford, where I was a student, for three years, I’d never ventured into Leeds for a night out (I know… unbelievable!) and so the chance to make the most of our weekend was a welcome treat.
It’ll be a while until the next romantic weekend, but we are very much looking forward to hitting the beaches of Ca’savio and the piazzas of Venice with the boys next month.