September 9th, 2012

Leeds-List review: Blackhouse Restaurant and Bar

Leeds-List review: Blackhouse Restaurant and Bar

When you read the menu, you'll feel as though someone's trying a bit too hard to impress you. Like a first date when the other person accidentally flashes his Rolex or casually mentions his porsche or his villas in France.

I feel this way about a lot of restaurants. I mean my mum made Dover Sole every Thursday, without fail, when I was a kid, and I bet you ten squids it didn't cost her £29.00 for the privilege. But sometimes, that's the price you have to pay when you're eating out at a ‘nice' restaurant.

When you walk into Blackhouse, you can see that the decor has been tastefully done, in a sophisticated yet understated way. Exposed stonework, dark wood, stylish cable lighting and an art-deco ceiling; the sorts of things which usually go unnoticed, artfully create the atmosphere at this steak and seafood joint. But what does the interior design and lighting matter when the most important thing is the food? I prayed that Blackhouse would deliver.

I started with a generous pot of Scottish mussels served in a tasty white wine sauce and some crusty bread for good measure. Now I know, I know, you'd have to have a personal vendetta against seafood to get this dish wrong. Mouthwatering mussels, it's no biggie. But what I really appreciated was the swift and thoughtful explanation from my waitress about my finger bowl, sauce spoon and the upside down lid for shells. It's amazing how common those awkward seafood moments are where oysters, clams or other shellfish are concerned. But my waitress nipped that right in the bud before I even had time to think: "now what do I do here?"

It was a small thing. But very much appreciated.

It's not often that I am spoiled for choice when it comes to the main course. It's very simple.

Skip the chicken, brush past the veggie shite and go straight for the most expensive meat dish / fishy feast. So you have to understand my dilemma here.....grilled lobster, Chateaubriand, Wagyu fillet (you know the cow that's been massaged daily and reared on a beer diet before it's slaughtered?), tender fillet steak, and a featured steak menu which puts a monthly spotlight on the best breeds in Britain. Everything was very well thought-out and these people seemed to care about where their cows came from.

I went with the Posh Surf n Turf (Sirloin steak with baby scallops, prawns and crayfish), which for £17.00 seemed quite a small portion. But that's the disadvantage of entertaining me - I have an inner fat girl who would love to audition for Man Vs. Food. My other half, Andy, made the intelligent choice of selecting fillet steak, cooked medium-rare, and although my sirloin was full of flavour, there was no competition against the incredible velvety, melt-in-the-mouth fillet cut. Despite my claiming to be the best steak chef in the country, Andy insisted that it was the best fillet steak he'd tasted in a long time.

Now home cut chips are always a tough one. I like to toss mine in paprika, crushed sea salt and a tiny pinch of cayenne, and finding "homemade" chips of the same caliber (sorry to blow my own trumpet), isn't always easy. But hands down to the crisp yet fluffy texture which I am yet to achieve at home. Almost a bit annoyed by this, I suspected that a microscopic person had climbed into the chip, beat the potato with a tiny little whisk then climbed back out again. Of course, I am also insane.

Halfway through my meal, it dawned on me that this place was very masculine. A place full of male bravado: meat of the meatiest kind, rock oysters served by the dozen, raw, manly beef in the form of (my favourite) Carpaccio. This is exactly what a steak and seafood restaurant should be about, no? I liked the lack of feminine charm. No faff, just good meat.

Whether it was my choice in grub or the well-portioned dishes, there was still room for dessert which is always a bonus for a sweet tooth like me. Sadly, my crème brulée hadn't set as well as I would have liked and I am a total sucker for a cool, thick custard. On the upside, the caramel topping did pass the spoon tapping test to my delight.

My guess is that you shouldn't expect too much magic when it comes to dessert. Everyone loves a good sweet after a carnivorous sitting but I think Blackhouse chefs channel all their superpowers for ingredients that moo. And who can blame them when they produce such a beautifully executed meat menu?

And if you're popping in for an after-work drink, make sure you try the Sloe Gin Crush cocktail. It's bloomin' delicious.

You won't catch me saying too often but I genuinely look forward to going back to Blackhouse again soon. I probably won't rest until I've tried everything on the menu.

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Tags: Blackhouse, Leeds,
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Solid, honest and simple proper food. Job done.

We focus on no nonsense food; specialising in wholesome ingredients, mixing distinctive textures and flavours that just work together, offering a mix of innovative dishes with comfortable favourites.