The Foundry, Leeds – Restaurant Review
The Foundry, Leeds
by Matt Callard
As 21st century Leeds swells and spreads, small islands of life spring up around the city’s perimeter. The tucked-away Wharfs, Brewery and Granary, host restaurants, businesses and shops and the multi-million pound venture at Clarence Dock is practically an enclosed village. There are residences, an indoor car park, places to hang out, mini-marts. If you were that way inclined, there would be no need to even leave the place.
You don’t pass these places with armfuls of shopping bags, they’re off the beaten commercial track. You must hunt them down, make a special visit. They call it regeneration, of course, and we like it! And here’s one more place that you just might just have missed. Hiding behind the Cross Keys on Water Lane is – wait for it – Holbeck Urban Village. Smart offices, outdoor areas, coffee shops and one very good restaurant.
Indeed, restaurants in these isolated pockets simply have to be good to survive. If things aren’t up to scratch, people will only make that special visit the once. Gone forever.
“Understands its food”
The Foundry has bags of restaurant experience front-of-house, in the kitchen and behind the scenes – and it shows. Here is a restaurant that understands its clientele and, most importantly, fully understands the food it’s putting before its customers. It might offer simple, hearty fare. Good ingredients, well prepared, well cooked. But it’s also a thoughtful enterprise and executed with absolute care and precision.
The restaurant boasts a healthy, growing reputation on the Leeds culinary scene. In fact, it was one of only two places Leeds’s own superchef Anthony Flinn would recommend as somewhere good to eat in the city. On: couldn’t get an incognito Saturday night table at the first time of asking – quite impressive in these cash-tight times. So we know, before we even start, they must be doing something right. Once you locate the place amid the maze of business premises at the development you’ll find a simple, gastropub-ish interior and a relaxed atmosphere. Although you might discover the odd n’er-do-well propping up the bar, as we did. Careful now, The Foundry!
Service is charming, friendly and unobtrusive. You’re given good complimentary olives and bread. The menu is simple and to the point – classic British dishes, some retro stylings, some modern twists. Calorie count is admirably ignored. You might even spot the odd Leeds United footballer inside. The restaurant is a favourite haunt for players old and new.
Scallops are, of course, the very definition of food simplicity. Offer me them butter-fried on hot, crusty bread and I’m in culinary heaven. See how easily pleased I am! Their tender, subtle flesh is so easily overcome but here they come delicately and beautifully balanced on a vivid Pea and Mint Puree. As good starters go, this is a flyer.
My partner’s Chicken Livers are deep and rich in a red wine jus – and come in such quantity! Yes, you’ll get the full lashings at The Foundry. If you prefer morsels and nibbling, stay away or at least bring some Gaviscon. Portions here are big and bold. It’s not exactly a cheap night either – you’ll pay about seventy quid for two without wine.
Mains are splendid. A hunk of Roast Lamb rests in a divine redcurrant gravy and it just slides off the bone. It is melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Not remotely dry and even comes with a nice side of crackled fat. If the chef wants to share his secrets, I’m all ears. My partner’s old-fashioned Beef Stroganoff is smoky with paprika. It is not well-presented but it is expertly cooked and accompanies fresh, well-dressed pasta. The creamy Sugarsnap and Green Pea side dishes are well looked-after to. Often sides are a half-hearted after-thought – not here.
“Simple and comforting”
To finish, the calories just kept coming. A creamily indulgent Eton Mess is packed with mango chunks and blackberries and streaked with a wild raspberry puree. A Crème Brulee does just about everything a Crème Brulee should do.
I think there’s a small part of me that’s been looking for a restaurant like The Foundry for some time. A place satisfyingly apart from the plethora of overpriced, wannabe fine dining joints that are springing up just about everywhere. Each of them serving (yawn) ’Modern European’, with barely a smile, in a chilly atmosphere. Sometimes, don’t you just fancy something simple, something trad, something comforting? If you do, try The Foundry. It could be the place you’ve been looking for too.
The Foundry Wine Bar, 1 Saw Mill Yard, Round Foundry, Water Lane, LS11 5WH
Open lunch Monday to Friday; dinner Monday to Saturday.
Car park off Water Lane, disabled access, discreet music.
Three course dinner for two without wine about £60 – £70.
Tel: 0113 2450390