Three colleagues, also friends, all fine dining addicts and in need of somewhere to celebrate Christmas. Not intimate but not busy, good cocktails, ideally central Leeds, independent -something special (it is Christmas).
This was the tick list for a gathering in Late December having decided to ‘do something’ nice. I always get to organise the restaurants on work do’s (and bars tbh) and some colleagues even encourage me to order for them. I’m such a food fan and really get that buzz when someone enjoys what I have chosen -or at if at home, what I’ve cooked!I spend most of my down time pouring through social media and blogs looking for updates on new restaurants, menu changes and who’s enjoying what and where. So the moment the date comes in, I’m usually ready to spring into action. This outing was no different, I had just the place!
I’d been following the chef at Vice & Virtue for a while now and had just seen the Christmas menu -and already decided I had to try it. I booked.
Jonathan ‘Jono’ Hawthorne delivers an impressive fine dining experience using quality local produce with a bit of a twist. He’s racking up awards and shortlistings from far and wide and now I can also say -deservedly so! The tasting menus are of modern British cuisine. They’re indulgent and delicious and very reasonably price IMO.
The restaurant, on the corner of Briggate, is housed in a former strip club and the cocktail bar interior seems to have a subliminal nod to its history with it’s sumptuous dark wood, cosy yet open booths, copper touches and fairy lights. It makes you want to stay a while and invites you back down after dinner too. Cocktails are award winning as well as the food -so it;s totally Okay that we had two before dinner and three after -as well as lots of wine with dinner -oops. The restaurant upstairs by contrast, is light and simply decorated -kept classy and clean with an open kitchen which is always a confident touch.
On getting seated and ordering wine, we were offered an amuse bouche platter which looked as pretty as it tasted perfect. Crispy chicken skin with liver pate and caviar, onion macaroons with duck liver pate and fruit cake with truffle and parmesan -what a start.
I ordered beurre noisette roast Orkney scallop, smoked eel, ponzu and Granny Smith apple followed by 24 hour slow roasted old dairy cow brisket with duck liver, truffled brioche and Koji onion. I finished with Manjari chocolate, smoked ham, salted caramel and malted rye. Every mouthful took me on a journey of testing my palate with flavours I know well moving through surprises to test, challenge and ultimately savour.
With coffee we were given an aperitif of wild mushroom fudge; for which I’d have paid double for my meal if I could have left with the recipe! We all three said we need to come back to Vice & Virtue -and soon.