Whilst food remains a stalwart passion of mine, my relationship with fine dining is akin to my relationship with most luxury things - are you paying for more style or substance.
So often it is disappointingly the former, especially when glitzy packaging or restaurant interiors divert attention away from substandard products and food.
I have eaten some of the best meals of my life from street food vans, friends homes and even, dare I say it, as a result of my own cooking.
There is something about going out though isn't there... sitting down, relaxing and taking time over tantalizing dishes whilst soaking in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. A good bottle of wine also is a welcome addition to this mix.
This is the kind of experience I was expecting to have at Sous le Nez, a popular restaurant/wine bar located in the centre of Leeds. Tucked away on Quebec street, the basement premises are a short way from the station and easily accessible.
Upon entering, it was apparent that Sous le Nez is both a place for dining and drinking, with groups of well dressed businessmen adorning the bar, adding a gentle chatter. We were swiftly seated by polite and welcoming staff into a little corner table, which if anything suffered from being a little too out the way.
From perusing the menu, it became even clearer that this is a restaurant heavily influenced by french cuisine which promised good food paired with good wine. On both counts, we were not to be disappointed!
French Onion Soup
Mackerel Pate, Beetroot Cured Salmon, Celeriac Salad
I think we could not have visited somewhere serving French cuisine without having to try their version of French onion soup. The challenge of assessing this traditional dish fell to Des, who was not disappointed. The soup was rich and meaty, though possibly lacking a certain dimension of flavour in it's basenotes, but was well complemented by the Gruyère smothered crouton which adorned the bowl.
My starter was the real star of the meal, with the mackerel pate being a delight with a wonderful saltiness and yielding softness. The plating was also especially well executed, whilst remaining unfussy and the beetroot cured salmon an interesting twist.
Seared Breast of Partridge with Curly Kale, Black Pudding, Thyme and Rosemary Jus
Confit Duck Leg with Sweet Potato & Coriander Rosti, Chilli, Black Bean Sauce
Served with seasonal vegetables and new potatoes
This time Des definitely won out with his choice of seared partridge breast, the bird was tender and full of flavour, well complimented by the thyme and rosemary. The black pudding was apparently especially good (you will have to ask Des about this if you want any more detail, as he hoovered it up before I got a single look in!)
The seasonal vegetables were cooked by a sympathetic chef and to my joy, still retained a good amount of bite. My main was well executed, with an unusual combination of flavours and a lovely tenderness to the duck.
Chocolate and Blackcurrant Trifle, Creme Chantilly & Ginger Biscuit
Orange and Lemon Panna Cotta, Passion Fruit Sauce, Poached Rhubarb
Dessert perhaps was the only sphere in which the meal fell down, in my opinion anyway. I chose the trifle due to my love for chocolate and berries, however these flavours did not seem to be forthcoming. Texturally and presentation wise everything was excellent, though I really did feel that the trifle was bland, despite the moreish ginger biscuit encrusted creme chantilly.
Des again made an astute choice to go with the panna cotta, a dish which usually does not appeal to me. However the combination of rhubarb and passion fruit proved to have real legs, especially when combined with the slight zing of the panna cotta. The dish was also invitingly put together, with bursts of colour all round.
We dined off the
, which comes in at a very reasonable £26.95 per person, including a half bottle of rather decent wine.
Would I go back again? - I do think so, especially as the venue had character along with the food and wine being excellent for the price point. I don't think I will be ordering a trifle anywhere though in the near future....
*Des and I were invited to try the
Menu Du Soir on a complementary basis. As always our opinions upon review remain honest and our own
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