Matt Healy X The Foundry, Leeds – Restaurant Review
Slap bang in the middle of the urban regeneration goings on in Holbeck, Leeds, sits the creative hub of the city. And one of its go-to places for food over the years is now under the ownership of Masterchef runner-up Matt Healy.
The Foundry already carried an impressive reputation and had a loyal returning customer base, but Healy had promised to turn this up a notch. And after a substantial refurb, my friend and I booked a table for two to check out the new chapter for this 12-year-old restaurant.
We were given a genuine and casual welcome as we walked in to The Foundry, and our first impression was really good. The refurb has given diners a modern look within the Victorian Mill infused area of the city; and a spacious, bright interior.
“Scaled up fine dining”
Taken to our table in the corner of the room, we ordered a bottle of JP Branco white, and had a browse at the menu.
At The Foundry, you’re given a choice of a charcuterie, cheeses or snacks as for first course. The snacks are small plates with a tapas style approach. There’s a nice selection for each option, and after a bit of deliberating my friend and I decide to go for the Chorizo in Aspel Cider (£6.50) and the Yorkshire Pecorino cheese (£3.90). We’ve decided we’ll share those between us.
The main courses are scaled up fine-dining based options, many bringing with them an element of intrigue. The Braised Pigs Cheek sounded inviting, but I plumped for the Duck Breast (£21), with my partner-in-dine deciding on the Beef Fillet (£28).
The service replicated the welcome. Genuine, fuss-free and friendly. We could see through to the kitchen at the other end of the room, and whilst the restaurant wasn’t full, there were plenty of diners in, keeping the cheerful staff busy.
And it wasn’t long before our entrées arrived. The serving of Yorkshire Pecorino was large, as was our dish of Chorizo. And it was the Spanish dish which really impressed us. Chorizo in cider is common place nowadays, but I found this portion to be incredibly tender, and it seemed to have an extra zing of flavour throughout it. It was a good choice.
As for the cheese, it was soft and very mild. Bursting with flavour it was not, but we’d chosen it for the name – and it’s made in Leeds. It was pleasant, and a nice accompaniment to the Chorizo; but those of you who are fans of strong cheese that explodes the nostrils, this one isn’t for you.
“The presentation was like a work of art”
We’d cleared the Chorizo and took some time to enjoy the wine. The JP Branco is a Portugese white, described as lively and fruity, with delicate floral notes. It’s a tasty tipple, that I found light and refreshing. It was a nice choice to share with a friend as we caught up with each other.
And that’s the thing about The Foundry. Its relaxed feel meant that we were able to chat candidly, laugh over the nostalgic stuff, and not feel like we had to keep the conversation low. A very nice atmosphere here.
Our main dishes arrived and they were as you’d expect from a Masterchef finalist. The presentation was like a work of art. Touted by Healy as “Unconventionally British” food, if it tasted as good as it looked we were in for a treat.
And the duck breast was a real triumph. Served with confit leg and black pudding and a red cabbage puree, it was a perfect choice. I’ve become a fan of duck over the last few years, and when cooked well – as it was this evening – I’m not sure there’s a meat I prefer. It was soft, and very succulent. The combination of the other tastes on the plate combined well with it too, and there was no doubt that I’d be finishing this dish.
I wasn’t the only one satisfied with my food. As I glanced across the table, a remarkable thing taking place – not a peep was coming out of my friend’s mouth. And plenty of beef fillet was finding its way in. Horseradish potatoes, shallots and mushrooms were served up with the beef. We had a table of two very pleased diners.
“High quality, beautiful food”
With a pair of clean plates, did we have room for dessert? Well, the order of the apple and cinnamon crumble cheesecake, and the chocolate and cherry (both £7.50) answers the question.
And we weren’t let down. We shared both dishes, and I must say the crumble wasn’t presented in the way we expected. Definitely not the apple crumble your grandma used to make! The zingy fruit part of the dish came as an apple presented on top, and it became a bit of a talking point between us and those dining at the table next to us.
We couldn’t finish both deserts, but we’d enjoyed some high quality, beautiful food at The Foundry. The dishes wouldn’t have been out of place in a more formal setting, but perhaps it’s even more enjoyable when you’re in a laid back setting such as this. The Foundry may be just out of the city-centre, but the advantage is you can park close by. And if you’re on foot, it’s worth the ten minute walk from the train station to sample some fantastic food, and a menu that changes every six weeks.
Matt Healy X The Foundry, 1 Saw Mill Yard, Leeds LS11 5WH
Tel: 0113 245 0390
Editor’s Update: In November 2020 Matt Healy announced The Foundry would permanently close due to the Coronavirus pandemic