And the birthday? So nice of
you to ask! You know us - never ones to let an estrangement get in the way of a good meal so we decided to visit Anthony's in Leeds to see if one of the cities best regarded establishments lived up to expectations.
They were high (the expectations, that is). We'd been to Anthony's years before when it was still relatively new on the scene and raved about it to anyone who sat still long enough to listen.
But perhaps our palates have changed in the meantime. Or perhaps we caught them on an off night (and, in fairness, we had been told in advance that the freezers had broken down at the weekend causing chaos and confusion in the kitchen).
Because the food just wasn't that brilliant and when I'm paying £65 a head for a tasting menu I want brilliant.
There were bright moments. This dish, for example, was garnished with a rather scrummy salt and vinegar Quaver. The main constituent, pig snout, was a little gelatinous for me but I applaud the inclusion of a more unusual bit of pig.
The bass with chargrilled lettuce and labneh (a soft cheese made from strained yoghurt) was gorgeous. Simple flavours, a good variety of textures, perfectly executed - this I could have eaten over and over again.
But elsewhere, disappointed faces. Or rather faces etched with the strain of trying really hard to like something and just not succeeding. There were cauliflower "dumplings" which tasted like musty pannacotta. The main course duck, obviously cooked sous vide, was a lovely even shade of pink but was already lukewarm by the time it reached the table. There was altogether too much toasted buckwheat strewn about - not a cereal to which I warm.
Cheese was ok. I liked the fact that you got a cheese menu rather than a trolley. But we had to pay a supplement for it.
We neither of us warmed to the desserts either. D positively disliked the fig with salsify and blackberry (pictured top). The pineapple tart Tatin with Brie ice cream and black olive felt like it was going for shock value over taste with none of the individual components quite working.
I'm very keen to go back to Anthony's on a day where everything has been running smoothly. I want to give the place the benefit of the doubt based on the chef's obvious talent and our memory of past glories. I'd not go for the tasting menu again though - it's just too much money to pay for something that is not quite to my taste. £65, after all, would keep me in gingerbread lattes all the way through until C-day.
19 Boar Lane