How often do you find a lunch that channels C.S. Lewis, Matisse, and Len Goodman?...
Not many restaurants in the world hit you with an opening salvo of great expectations just from opening the front door and walking up the stairs.
Home took Gordo’s breath away.
It was like going through that lion’s wardrobe in reverse. The start of winter in Leeds is always a bit grim, nowhere more so than walking up Kirkgate in the city centre, looking for Home’s nondescript entrance; a couple of understated hanging baskets looked sufficiently out of place next to a busy Poundland. With blue ears and a runny nose, opening the front door and stepping into an interestingly gloomy hall and following lighted candles here and there on the unfinished stone steps, Gordo got interested.
Two or three flights up and suddenly a bar opens up that is as easy on the eye as a Mattise in his blue period. There were three of us, the fat Publisher, an immaculately coiffured Leeds editor whose beard is so perfect it should be used to keep unsullied virgins warm and safe and the chief editor who shouldn’t be sporting one at all. Let’s leave it at that.
Sitting down at the bar on Savoy-comfy stools, Mike the barman served a couple of Negronis ‘with a twist’. The Confidentials don’t like things ‘with a twist’. In Gordo’s opinion it’s not possible to improve on Darcey Bussell, the woman of his dreams, 'with a twist'. Neither is it possible to improve on this gloom-lifting, liverish-busting cocktail from Florence. But, to be fair, Mike’s idea is acceptable; it’s moved up a few pegs on the sweeter side by the use of blood oranges. We loved ‘em.
Three ‘amuse bouches’ were delivered on the bar top for us. Each a mouthful to tease and lay out the intent from the team in the kitchen. A cauliflower cheese tartlet stunned. Alongside two fine companions, it shone like Gordo’s beloved Darcy in between Len and Craig, the latter whom could do with necking a couple of those Negronis before the show.
Home is the brainchild of Masterchef finalist Liz Cottam, and business partner Mark Owens. Mark was previously head chef at a Michelin one star favourite of Gordo, The Box Tree at Ilkley. This meal should be interesting.
The team were taken through into the restaurant; by now, the sun had come out to play and illuminated the room with gentle light that makes you feel all is well in the world; the chairs give you a cuddle and settle you in for main event.
Tablecloths. Dear sweet Jesus, tablecloths. Crisp, white ones. Looking around the room, decorated in dark and moody Farrow and Ball, it reveals itself as a refuge from the world’s ills. Forget the school fees and the mortgage. It’s a restaurant that cocoons, wraps you up and gently tickles you for hours.
Five courses are served at lunchtime, ten, by all accounts, in the evening. Good advice is to arrive promptly for that experience; the lunch kept our lot laughingly happy for three hours.
First wave on the tablecloths were scallops; at first, it appeared they had been cooked in a faeries washing machine. Just a hint of heat from somewhere; but no, they were raw, at room temperature served with a beautifully crafted mayonnaise and topped with something crisp for texture. Loved this.
Next up were cubes of ‘pulled beef’. Crap description, they were sat in an onion and Wigmore cheese velouté (thick foam) and dots of something nicely jammy. The notes say ‘triumph’. These two dishes kicked straight in at 10/10. Remarkable cooking.
Carrying on, the celeriac carbonara dropped to a 7.5, overshadowed by the previous dish and too similar in the construction.
Red Deer with a Christmas Tart – see the video- was clever, looked great and ate well. Christmas in November. A single warm blackberry exploded on the palette with venison that was all silk and forest. Alongside, the tart was a tiny spring roll pasty filled with fruit and nuts.
Pudding was apple sponge, with an apple crisp; actually more chewy than crisp, atop a lovely stiff cream. Cheeses are presented beautifully and well worth the extra payment. A great selection of Yorkshire blues and, oh my, the biscuits. Top five cheeseboard in the North.
The price, by the way, for the five courses and a couple of freebies is £50, a bargain in the fat one’s book.
The team are very enthusiastic about their wines; with good reason. Well thought out and a decent number of choices, they aren’t overpriced, with - not to go all Simon Rimmer's Restaurant Secrets - a set mark-up on each bottle, rather than a percentage. You can take a wine flight if you want. Gordo bought a couple of bottles; A Varej Fontanafreda Barolo, Italy; raisin, cinnamon and pepper on the nose, drinking with deep fruit and walnut (?) on the palette. Long finish, 2010. A Rioja vega, Tempranillo Blanco 2016 at £35 did just the job. Light sherry and orange blossom on the nose, superb fizzy flying saucers on a deep, long finish.
Home is an all round delightful restaurant. It’s a Gordo Go.
Amuse 9, Scallop 10, Beef 10, Carbonara 7.5, Venison 9, Apple sponge 8, Cheese 10