Anthony’s Restaurant, Boar Lane, Leeds

Anthony'sI started visiting Leeds about ten years ago, when I met Dr Weasel. Back then it was already a pretty darn pleasant city to visit, with fantastic shopping in the Arcades, a branch of Harvey Nichols and some amazing municipal architecture. Since then, the place has only got better – the city is positively bristling with good restaurants these days, and Anthony’s (0113 245 5922) is one of the very best.

To be entirely honest, I remain unconvinced by most molecular gastronomy I’ve tried. It’s often fiddly, a bit pretentious – the tubes of slightly (and repellently) high, sticky foie gras wrapped in red pepper toffee I had earlier this year at Midsummer House in Cambridge remain a very expensive nadir of chefly masturbation. (I have not reviewed Midsummer House here, because bad reviews are too easy to write and it’s no help to the reader if I write an armful of invective where a simple ‘don’t visit; they don’t deserve their two stars and they cost too much’ would do. In short, don’t visit; they don’t deserve their two stars and they cost too much.) I’ve tried other restaurants offering molecular gastronomy which have been much more successful. Jean Ramet in Bordeaux, for example, is worth a visit, but only uses molecular techniques in a few courses in the menu. I’d pretty much given up on finding a good meal served in this style in the UK until time and wallet allowed a visit to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck.

So I was intrigued when, looking for somewhere to take Dr W’s family for a pre-Christmas meal, I read about Anthony’s. The head chef and restaurant director both worked for years at El Bulli in Spain, which is widely considered Europe’s best restaurant and the very best in the world for molecular cooking. (El Bulli’s waiting list for reservations is currently standing at two years, so don’t expect a review any time soon.) Chef Ferran Adria is incredibly picky about who he employs, and Anthony Flinn is the only British chef to have worked at El Bulli. After three years in Spain, he came back to Leeds to set up his own restaurant with his father – a quick glance at the online menu had me on the phone immediately, booking a table.

The restaurant is a very short walk from Leeds station (just as well, given the weather on the day we visited – dead umbrellas littered the pavements and little match girls were perishing in every doorway). We were welcomed into a very comfortable bar area with sofas and low tables, where we were greeted with a wine list, and, joy of Christmas joys, a beer list. I skipped over the wines and went straight for the beers – there was the very pricey but creamily delicious Deus Champagne beer, which is brewed in Belgium and then shipped to the Champagne region of France to be bottle-conditioned in the same way Champagne is, resulting in tiny bubbles and a high alcohol content. I settled for a glass of my favourite Kriek, and we tucked into a jar of juicy purple olives.

Downstairs, in the restaurant proper, we found a large table, beautifully dressed. The lunch set menu is unfathomably well-priced at £19.95 for two courses or £23.95 for three. I chose from the a la carte menu, largely because I had been fantasising about the restaurant’s signature white onion risotto with parmesan air and espresso ever since booking.

An amuse bouche arrived for the whole table (very nice, this, given that one of our party wasn’t eating a starter). A glass of goose jelly, topped with achingly sweet brown shrimp and a nutmeg foam was one of the very best things I’ve eaten all year – right up there with the poached oysters and caviar at Picasso in February.

Two tiny loaves of fresh, white bread came to the table, accompanied by three soft butters. One was salted, one creamed with vast amounts of parmesan, and one, introduced as ‘toast butter’ tasted of . . . toast. Lightly browned, glossily buttered, delicious toast. Suddenly molecular gastronomy stopped looking quite so silly, and began to make a very perfect kind of sense.

The white onion risotto arrived. I have been trying to work out what bits of molecular chef’s kit went into packing such a tremendous load of flavour into those little grains of rice – I’m guessing that a vacuum was involved somewhere. The parmesan foam was a wonderful foil to the strong but sweetly creamy onion of the rice, and the small amount of espresso at the bottom of the bowl was a remarkable and successful contrast of flavours. This was a very generous portion for an appetiser, but I’m very grateful that it was; I could have happily bathed in this stuff. The set lunch starters were a celeriac velouté with a ham hock ravioli – the pasta skin was made from a sheet of scallop – and a very delicate crab filo presentation with cucumber salad. All delicious.

The set main course that everyone else at the table chose was a roast poussin, beautifully presented in a mirepoix of vegetables and a very rich jus with potato puree. I chose the pan fried cod cheek with oxtail. Several fatty little fish cheeks were arranged on the plate in a cep puree which was so darkly mushroomy it tasted curiously of gunpowder. The sticky, gelatinous oxtail was a fantastic contrast, but the thing on the plate that best set off the cod was a pair of sweet malt jelly cubes covered with grated black truffle. Something about the dark, back-of-mouth sweetness of malt, the almost bodily warm odour of the truffle and the cleanly fatty cod together made a kind of magic.

Professor Weasel opted for cheese for dessert. Another time, I’d like to pay the extra £10.50 for what the menu calls the Eleven Cheeses Supplement – Prof W’s three cheeses were beautifully presented little squares, and had him making happy noises through his beard. I asked for the Pear Crumble – tiny, quite hard pears dipped in what seemed to be a very thin beignet batter, deep fried and sugared, accompanied by a smoked brie ice cream (creamily soft and not strong, but a good contrast to the pears), an unsugared walnut jelly and tiny cubes of black olive – surprisingly good with a mouthful of pear.

Coffee was excellent, and again, although only a few of us had asked for coffee, petits fours in the form of chocolates came for the whole table. White chocolate fondant, a creamy pumpkin square and a sesame ganache left us a family bursting at the seams, but absurdly happy. Thank you Anthony’s – we’ll be back.

18 Replies to “Anthony’s Restaurant, Boar Lane, Leeds”

  1. First let me say that my wife and I are enchanted with most aspects of the UK (although, given my choice, I prefer to explore the restaurants in Scotland and Ireland over those in England).

    Secondly, despite my Ph.D. (American, alas), I have a problem with the so-called “scientific discipline” of “molecular gastronomy.”

    I believe the “discipline”, so to speak, is a fabrication by “chefs” (and exactly WHAT formal education credentials do “chefs”, as a group, possess?) in an attempt to justify their validity and their desired celebrity in a world newly obsessed with food and eating.

    Having said that, I would agree with much of your review of Anthony’s restaurant in West Yorkshire. The food was good, and it would have been better without some of the flamboyant, unnecessary flourishes. Indeed, some of the ostentation bordered on the ridiculous.

    The price? Totally ridiculous, but I blame that partly upon the current anemic condition of the USD (thanks to our current corrupt political administration), and partly upon Anthony’s unnecessary showmanship.

    We will probably bypass Anthony’s in the future, but primarily because there are other “fish to fry” in the wonderful United Kingdom.

  2. Hello Chuck, and thanks for the comment! I happen to in the US myself at the moment – and yes, the USD is horribly anaemic (which means that my own eating this week is what we consider brilliantly cheap). Quite honestly, by British standards Anthony’s is excellent value – some London prices will make you bleed from the nose, especially if you’re paid in dollars!

  3. I live in Leeds, but had never tried Anthonys’ due to the fact that it was recommended by some one I know who pride food over how much they cost rather than the actual quality.

    You had probably just changed my mind in a good way:). It looks like a well priced quality restaurant rather than just-another-high-priced-restaurant. Will be making a booking for my wedding anniversary in January.Are tables fairly easy to get there?

  4. I’m not sure how representative the day we visited was (restaurants tend to be a bit emptier shortly before Christmas), but I had no trouble getting a table for lunch on a Saturday.

    Docchuck – Dr Weasel informs me that as far as he’s concerned, a US Ph.D is worth rather more than a UK one. I suggest the pair of you get together to fight it out.

  5. I’m sorry for my dear husband’s little outburst. He has an active imagination which is only made more so by his abuse of nasal spray. That and what I suspect is profound jealousy of Dr. Weasel.

    We have never been to this restaurant, nor have we been to Leeds, even.

    But I will certainly be anxious to try it, should we ever get back to Jolly Olde England. Which will require some serious budgeting on our part!

  6. “mrs.docchuck” is really the poster “chiff0nade” also known as “realchiffonade” as “JanelleHouse” and as dozens of other names.

    When she mixes her state of Florida psychotropic drugs (mandated after her SECOND suicide attempt) with alcohol she goes onto numerous blogs and posts non-sensical ramblings such as the one above, using a Proxy Server so as to hide her IP address and to attempt to avoid further harassment lawsuits.

    She claims to be a Professional Chef, a Pastry Chef, a SeriousEats advisor, and other “things”.

    One can read the details of her life (along with viewing her tattoos and body piercings) on her “website” on MySpace (chiffondae).

  7. Liz,

    I’m sorry. My husband is an older, retired man who constantly searches the internet for blogs run by young women. He loves ones that have the blogger’s photo posted.

    Then he tries to “chat them up.” Later, he often becomes very agitated and posts vicious and demeaning things. A google search will verify this.

    Nothing good comes from this, I assure you. Please do not respond to him.

    My name is Liz, too, by the way. 🙂

  8. Sadly, that is not my photo. It’s a picture of a long-dead schoolmate, taken on the eve of her tragic death in a drowning accident with some preserving equipment. My own features have been ravaged by decades of cough medicine abuse and a bad squint. And I’m not young, either. I am raddled and streaked with grey. The relentless march of time is cruel, and I resent it.

  9. And for many years he insisted on performing his own dental work. With predictably disasterous results.

    ~~Liz, RN

  10. Please disregard the lunatic-fest above comprised of Mrs. Doc Chuck, Doc Chuck and all the other little Chucks (including Liz) who reside in Doc Chuck’s head. He needs his meds and insists on skipping!


    The Weird “DocChuck” epic of Charles Richard Treuter’s years of trolling, stalking, harassing, and sending threating emails (including death threats) may very well be moving toward a swift and just conclusion. For details visit:

  12. While this lengthy comment thread has been a joy, I’m shutting it down now; the topic at hand seems to have moved rather a long way from discussion of the restaurant, so comments will no longer be accepted for this post. Chuck, Mrs Chuck, and all the Chucklets – I wish you well. Keep taking the pills.

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