[UPDATE: 2021-12-28: This restaurant is permanently closed]
A few years ago I went to Anthony’s in Leeds for the first time, and was truly impressed by the food there. At that time, the restaurant just won the best restaurant of the year’s Observer Food Monthly award which was quite an achievement for a restaurant outside London, and I had a very good meal there. So after the visit to Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, the next logical stop would be Anthony’s in Leeds.
It’s a nightmare driving around Leeds with the rather complex one-way system – you could almost see where you wanted to go, but the road signs would take you further and further away. So after half an hour driving around, we decided to abandon the car at the car park and walk to the restaurant. It was a cold and wet November evening, but we thought it’d be worth it.
After an aperitif upstairs to settle in and relax a bit, we were led to the dining room downstairs. I never really liked the dining room at Anthony’s – I just found the lack of windows and the low ceiling made the whole place somewhat depressing. However, if the food could compensate for this deficiency, I’d be happy to compromise.
The amuse bouche was spiced potato velouté, which came in this screw-top bulb-shaped bottle, and a thin straw was provided to sip the veloute out of this bottle. Unfortunately due to the thickness of the veloute, it was rather difficult to suck anything through the straw. The soup itself was fine, but the whole idea of the bottle and straw was verging on being too gimmicky/tacky – in fact Bob made a comment “I can eat from a plastic cup at 7-11”. Whoops! That’s not a good start.
At my previous visit to Anthony’s 4 years ago, I had the risotto of white onion with espresso and parmesan air – I was sufficiently impressed with this starter that I recommended it to Darcy and Bob. So they both followed my advice and ordered the same dish. As soon as they had their first spoonful, I knew something wasn’t quite right. After another two or three mouthfuls, they both stopped eating it – the comments were “it’s too salty and there’s nothing special about it – I can make better risotto at home” and “it tasted like it’s from a packet”. I couldn’t believe what I heard and so I tried a mouthful. My verdict? Let’s say even when I was unwell, I could make a better tasting congee than this – it was like eating a mixture of glue and salt.
Russell’s scallops with tomato jelly and chorizo cream seemed to be better and he enjoyed it.
As for my crab with braised chicken heart, lemon and basil sorbet – it was OK but not memorable.
With two plates of risotto left mostly untouched, the restaurant manager noticed this and simply asked “Did you not enjoy it?” and then when the answer “no” was given, he simply shrugged his shoulder, without even bothering to ask why we didn’t like it, and walked away with the plates. It was not the sort of service I’d expect!
For main course, both Darcy and Russell opted for monkfish cheeks with chestnut gnocchi, butter beans and Jabugo ham – again the dish turned out to be rather bland and the only comment I got was “it’s ok – better than the risotto”.
Bob and I opted for pork five ways with baby cider apples – there was smokey flavour but it’s very much a one-dimensional dish. Bob found the food not as warm as it should be.
By the time we finished the main course, we still had room in the stomach for dessert. However, based on the disastrous risotto and the less than desirable service, we decided to just forget the dessert and asked for the bill.
The meal was disappointing, especially because I thought rather highly of the place due to a previous visit a few years ago, and I heard good comments from one chef that I had real respect just before this visit. Would I go back to Anthony’s? Most unlikely based on this bad experience.
Address: 19 Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6EA, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 113 245 5922
Opening Hours: Lunch: Tuesday to Saturday 12:00 -14:00 ; Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday: 19:00-21:00
Total: 9/20 [Based on visit in November 2010]