Kate Ryrie gets stuck into their latest fine dining tasting menu... well in
Another establishment angling for the well-worn accolade of ‘Leeds’ best kept secret’, HOME brings raw passion together with fine flavour to create a bold, conceptual eating experience. Heartily encouraging diners to tout the classic ‘there’s no place like…’ phrase, this is the place where even the cutlery is spectacular.
Sandwiched by the rudimentary gateway of Superdrug and Shoezone on Kirkgate, the entrance to HOME gives off a strange, 'Platform Nine and Three Quarters' sense of mystery, so we were relieved as the door opened to find a darkened stairwell leading to stone steps up to the bar.
The ambience sits around our shoulders like a silk scarf
HOME’s menu changes every month, and March’s twelve-course tasting experience is limbering up as we take our seats on sleek yet squashy sofas, ready to sample this month’s array of British, seasonal produce cooked with creativity and excitement. That signature inventiveness doesn’t waste a second – we enjoy chicken liver parfait macarons and G&T marshmallows with our on-the-house glasses of Champagne, and consider our taste buds awake.
After about fifteen minutes, we’re summoned from our coffee-table level aperitif and led into a white table-clothed, spacious dining area. The lighting is warm and soft, and the ambience sits around our shoulders like a silk scarf. It’s lovely.
Amuse bouche arrives: a piece of tender smoked eel and a flaxseed cracker, both of which surpass expectations on flavour. A piquant Trimbach gewürztraminer gives our first bites the oomph they need, carrying us into the first course, which (obviously) is a doughnut.
With both the pescatarian and standard menu covered by our dietary choices, the doughnut arrives in dual format – one celeriac, one pork, both served with rhubarb jam, and both fluffy yet powerful (not the first of the night’s unexpectedly excellent combinations).
Up next – but not before a seamless cutlery change takes us from silver to black and gold – is a beautifully buttery bite of cod adorned with red grapes and a raisin. We take a moment to marvel at the astonishing power of butter, and swallow the last of our crisp French white.
Our enthusiastic sommelier is particularly excited about the next pairing. Here, she tells us, the wine directed the food – not the other way round. As the deep, waxy spice of Aussie orange wine, Esoterica, sloshes into our glasses, we understand this to be big news. This wine takes no prisoners, holding the accompanying course of lavender smoked carrot (or duck for the non-veggie), blood orange and pistachio paté to full account.
Weird yet wonderful combination precedent set, we proceed to the night’s shining star. A chunky bite of salsify with truffle, wild mushrooms and, wait for it… white chocolate. Put your instinctive grimace to one side for a second and imagine the sweet, earthy, salty combination in high-definition texture. This is bold, experimental eating at its best, and I’m officially a fan.
HOME features in our Top 100 Restaurants in the North - see the full list here
Four courses in, one could argue we have eaten a mere four bites. Mind blowing as those morsels were, the ‘bread course’ that arrives next is welcome. We tuck into malted bread and garlic brioche, dunking them into salted caramel and lamb fat butter, and unashamedly spreading the crumbs far and wide. But we are at HOME, and here, they have a special squeegee to clear away the debris. Yes, that’s how far the bar has been raised.
Taste buds soothed, we enjoy salmon and caviar paired with a stuffed Jerusalem artichoke, followed in an understated flourish (a move the impeccable waiting team have got nailed) by a tender cut of beef and a vegetarian dale and cheddar pudding. British flavour wins the fight here, and we wash it down with a mighty Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.
Breathing satisfied sighs, we embrace dessert the only way you can after seven courses of mind-boggling texture and taste. With gusto. A playful, sherberty take on a lemon meringue pie comes in a fairy-sized pastry case, washed down with an eye-wateringly sweet mouthful of Moscato D’asti to balance the citrusy tang.
A bright-eyed pastry chef canters over to our table to introduce the final concoction of honeycomb and yogurt parfait atop a modest slab of airy honey cake. His description captures the heart of the HOME experience – yes, the dishes are bold, daring and delicious, but what sets this place apart is the passion.
You feel it in the way the sommelier describes our red wine as ‘happy’, the way co-head chef, Liz Cottam, appears to greet every diner as they finish their meal, the way the cutlery changes colour with every course, and the way every flavour gets its space to shine. Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
HOME Leeds, 16/17 Kirkgate, Leeds LS1 6BY.
How much does it cost?
‘The Season’ ten course menu is priced at £65 – £90.
‘The Selection’ five courses menu is priced at £45 – £55.
An accompanying wine flight is £45 – £55
This is not a scored review, rather a write-up of the new menu. The meal was provided by the restaurant.