I've been staring at a blank blog post for so long my computer screen just turned off.
I'm apprehensive about writing this post.
Shears Yard is loved by most of the Leeds food circle. If not all. Well no, not all.
Please don't send the masses to lynch me.
I just feel that maybe I'm missing something?
I suppose the best way to start this post is to begin like I always do...
Some of you may have seen my previous post in which I detailed some of the discounts that are circulating around Leeds this January. Shears Yard appears in that list offering 50% off food. We managed to secure at 6pm booking for a Friday night (the day before even), so off we toddled with our voucher in hand excited to be the last people in Leeds to try out Shears Yard.
Correction D has been it's just me that was the last person in Leeds...
Every one raves about Shears Yard. From the food circles on twitter, to my friends, to work colleagues etc etc. I had high expectations.
First impressions weren't great. We were left standing like lemons for a good five minutes whilst their half a dozen staff stood behind the bar and the others stood puzzled over a computer. Finally someone noticed us and they took a look at the computer before guiding us to our table.
I must admit it's much smaller inside Shears Yard than I had been expecting, not that it matters.
Bread arrived on a wooden platter, that didn't really measure up ratio wise, served with apple smoked butter.
The menus also arrived on wooden platters, I didn't take a photo of them.
We ordered drinks, and I was happy to see my favourite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Dashwood, on the menu and D went for a Brew Dog IPA.
The menus were quite distinctive and different, which was nice. It wasn't all lamb shanks and steaks (thank goodness), instead there were some intriguing dishes and I was excited to give them a try. The menu also changes dependent upon season and availability of local produce. Tick.
To start I decided to go for the Haggis 'shepherd's pie'. As you would expect it was haggis topped with mash potato.
First up, rookie error, the plate was cold. This made my meal warm at best drifting to near cold. I've never had haggis outside of Scotland. I'm not sure I will again. The meat was strong in flavour and the fruity sauce it was served with mellowed it out a little. Oaty? No, not really. It's definitely best served on a full Scottis breakfast alongside bacon, sausages, beans and egg.
D chose the chickpea fritter that were roasted in spices, and served with raisins. Unfortunately the picture is incredibly poor... you can barely tell what it is so I haven't posted it. I had a nibble and was overwhelmed by the vinegary raisins. Perhaps a splash of vinegar rather than a full on soaking would have been more palatable. The chickpea fritter was dry and not as spicy as I had expected.
Starters were served rather speedily but the mains took much longer. A clever ploy so that you fill the gap with booze? We all know that's where restaurants make a lot of their money, and when it's 50% off you need to reap in the drink cash.
For mains both D and I opted for the duck. I normally like to order something different from my dining partner, however I REALLY wanted the duck and I think D did too... either that or he was struggling to find anything else on the menu that caught his fancy. He was tempted by the beef but the snail bourguignon put him off.
I'll come on to the main dish shortly but I just want to have a word about the sides first. As it's January and we're on a bit of a health kick we shied away from the thrice cooked chips and instead went for the roasted new potatoes with parsley and garlic in addition to a bowl of seasonal veg.
Potatoes. They look lovely on this picture. They sounded lovely on the menu. We were both disappointed. They were incredibly dry, I guess that's what you get from roasting. There was no garlic or parsley lingering at the bottom of the bowl for us to mop up with potato to try and moisten their insides. We should have just got the damn chips.
Veg. That is the full bowl that was served to us. A portion of this costs £3.25. Luckily we had 50% off. You can disagree if you like, but I don't think that bowl is worth £3.25. There was barely anything to it! It looked like the stir fry packets you can get in tesco (or other leading supermarkets) and it had been boiled up with some cucumber and served to us in a bowl for an incredibly inflated price. I at least expected some carrots in my seasonal veg, it is January after all.
So despite our blow concerning the veg, the main was actually really rather nice. Nice. I hate that word, how about.... *searches thesaurus* fine and dandy, lovely, delightful, inviting... erm you get the idea. (At least it's not as bad a 'tasty').
Thankfully there was no scrimping on the duck breast, served with a pea puree, some crushed peanuts and savoy cabbage and more cucumber it all went rather splendidly. The duck was cooked perfectly. I've visited places were the duck has been so raw it's stone cold, and that's not to my preference, I've also been to far too many places were it has been overcooked. Pink is the way forward, you miss out on all the lovely ducky taste otherwise.
The skin is also one of the best bits, chargrilled and seared it's so bad but it's so good. A quick check on my calorie counter app and one duck breast is 530 calories. But fuck a duck it's worth it.
Enough drooling on the keyboard... next up was dessert.
D, sadly, made the wrong choice and went for a lime posset. His poor little face is almost heartbreaking when he chooses a mediocre dessert that doesn't quite live up to his expectations. It had an odd consistency, but then posset sort of does.
He looked over enviously at mine. A pudding that comes with chocolate brownie, chocolate ganache and blood orange sorbet.
The flavours here all worked really well. The sorbet was fruity, the chocolate ganache deep and rich, the brownie crumbly and brownie like. I couldn't help think that this would be something I could easily make myself at home if I got my hands on some sorbet. Not what I want when I'm paying to eat out. That is where my disappointed in this dessert laid.
With the 50% discount our meal came to £52.71, included in this was an 'optional' service charge. I've ranted about this before, but it's been a while so I'll let my service charge ugly head raise again. If they really wanted the service charge to be optional they wouldn't put it on the end of the bill. By placing it there it sort of does make it compulsory. I mean this is Britain. We're too polite and confrontation-avoiding to ask for it to be removed. If you did dare to ask for it to be removed then you fear the look of horror as they wonder what on Earth they have done wrong. Maybe, just maybe I want to pay a tip that I feel is worthy, not what you dictate you think your service is worth. It could be nothing, it could be 5%, 10% 12.5% 15% or 50% (I'm not that rich). By placing that 'optional' service charge on there you will never know if I wanted to tip you more, I'm so frustrated with you because you feel you deserve this certain amount of money from me I'm taking every penny of change home. Rant over.
FYI service charge was £7.70.
The full bill without the discount would have been £85.58. I'm not entirely sure I would have been happy to have paid this amount. Maybe I'm becoming a cheap skate, but times are hard and for 85 quid I want to be wowed a little more. I want to have a bit more seasonal veg in my seasonal veg. I want my plates to be warm. I want my food to be warm. I want more of the duck dish quality in the rest of the dishes.
Or maybe I'm just missing something.
11-15 Wharf Street