I’m very lucky to have visited some incredible restaurants in my time. I remember vividly my first fine dining experience at Quay in Sydney back in 2009. As I tucked into their ubiquitous ‘Snow Egg’ dessert, something inside me clicked. How did they make this? Who made it? What’s inside it? It sounds slightly cheesy, but from that moment on, I think I became a little bit addicted to food. Yes, in 2009 I became a foodie, thanks to the Snow Egg. (I recently read that they’re taking the snow egg of the menu, and yes I did cry a little bit inside).
Since then we’ve visited The Ledbury and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, Central and Astrid y Gaston in Lima, Peru, The Three Chimneys in Scotland, The Box Tree in Ilkley and Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds. Of all these restaurants, The Ledbury in London was the stand-out. We went there for a treat on my 30th birthday and every single one of the ten courses was divine. Needless to say, it deserves its two Michelin stars and longstanding place in the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World.
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been to a restaurant on this level, so for Jake’s birthday I decided to book a table at a new restaurant in Leeds called Home. Headed up by former Masterchef contestant, Elizabeth Cottam, and former Box Tree Head Chef, Mark Owens, I knew I was in for a treat… but it was even better than I ever could have expected.
As you enter Home, you feel like you’re entering a secret supper club or speakeasy. You then wind your way up some wrought iron and wooden stairs until you get to the bar; a beautiful cosy room with dark walls, low yellow light and comfortable sofas. Ironically, it looks a little bit like my dining room (but much bigger and much much more glamorous obviously).
The lovely, friendly waitress sat us down and offered us a choice of two welcome drinks; English sparkling wine or a local gin with tonic. We both opted for the gin and tonic, which was delicious; a great way to start the meal. She then brought over a couple of bar snacks; the coffee macaroon being standout. Although I wish I’d put the whole thing in my mouth in one go, as when I tried to take a bite a little bit splodged on my dress! #MacaroonFail.
Once I’d composed myself, we were guided to our table in the beautifully decorated dining room. I could see straight away how it had coined the name ‘Home’ – it has a warm, cosy feel to it, complete with luxurious sofas to sit and eat your dinner on, and a multitude of beautiful leafy plants and succulents. Like something from a Scandi chic magazine.
Before I dive into describing the menu, I just want to caveat that I didn’t take a photograph of every single course. I wanted to savour the food rather than spend all my time behind a screen! I think it’s a mistake a lot of us foodie types make when we eat out these days.
We kicked off the tasting menu with some delicious bread and dripping; simple and savoury, it left our mouths salivating for more food. The first proper dish was ‘Crab and Tunworth’ – Whitby crab and Tunworth cheese. This was such a delicate dish, not only in its appearance but also its taste. I almost didn’t want to eat it for fear of disturbing it. It was a lovely way to offset the punchy gutsiness of the bread and dripping we’d just eaten.
Next, ‘Leek Tart’. But no, this wasn’t the sort of thing you’d whip out of your fridge from Sainsbury’s for a picnic. The pastry was so fine and crispy, it almost dissolved on your tongue. The roasted leek within paired beautifully with the slightly sharp Granny Smith apple and smoked cod mousse which sat on top.
I had my reservations about the next dish, ‘Roasted Roscoff’. The waitress described that this dish was composed of various types of onions cooked in different ways; roasted Roscoff onion, onion broth and onion ice cream. Whilst I enjoyed the different elements of this dish separately, I wasn’t so blown away by the flavour of all of them together. It was slightly too sweet for me – but bravo to the chefs for having the ‘balls’ to put together a dish only consisting of onions! Isn’t it pretty though?
Onto the Pork Belly next. The soft, sweet and salty pork belly was served with salsify and orange and it was, perhaps unsurprisingly one of my favourites of the night. And yes, I was too busy scoffing to photograph it. Sorry, not sorry.
The next dish was another favourite of mine, possibly because I have a slightly strange obsession with roasted cauliflower at the moment. To me, they’re as addictive as chips. ‘Monkfish and Cauliflower’ arrived at our table and the fish was cooked lightly with cumin and flaked beautifully. Served with this was deliciously nutty cauliflower (which naturally, I salivated over), almonds and raisins. And just look at how pleasing it is on the eye too…
Now, I’m not usually a great lover of pigeon but ‘Pigeon and Truffle’ was a delightful dish. The breast of the squab pigeon had been roasted and was served pink so it reminded me of a rather decadent piece of duck. This rich gamey meat complimented the pungent anise, black truffle and potato it was served with.
At this point I was starting to get rather full, but there were still two courses to go! Plus, they were both desserts, so I was going to do my best to make some room for those.
First up was ‘Lime, Marmalade and Toast’, which sounded a bit like breakfast, but I can tell you.. it wasn’t. This was a beautifully light and tangy lime parfait served with marmalade, toast ice cream and a butter sauce. I adore the brown bread ice cream at Betty’s – but I can vouch for the fact that this toast ice cream beats that, hands down.
Finally, possibly my favourite dish of the night, in all its snowy gloriousness; Burnt White Chocolate and Coconut. A plate of caramelised white chocolate mousse, coconut sorbet and chocolate chards arrived at our table to complete our meal. As a huge coconut fan, when I took my first bite, I smiled. It felt like I was eating a whispy-light cloud version of a Bounty bar. The term ‘melt in the mouth’ is a little overused by bloggers and food writers, but this really did. Such a wonderful way to end an absolutely incredible meal.
To top off a magical evening (we were there for four whole hours!) as we left, one of the head chefs, Elizabeth Cottam (former Masterchef contestant) had a chat to us. She was really keen for our feedback, which I thought was wonderful. We told her we’d eaten in a few lovely restaurants and that Home was on a par with The Ledbury in London; the best restaurant we’d ever eaten in. She looked very happy indeed.
I can’t wait to visit Home again. I think about my visit there a lot. I just hope I can get in there again before it gets its first Michelin star, because I don’t think that day is very far away.