Thursday, 3 August 2017

Sky Lounge (Doubletree Hilton) Brunch – Leeds

The Sky Lounge in Leeds is a notorious hotspot for cocktails on a summer’s evening. It has a stunning uninterrupted view over the south of Leeds and is considered the place to go when you’re dressed up to the nines. Admittedly, I had never visited Sky Lounge on an evening nor during the day, I’ve seen plenty of pictures of the Sky Line and I’ve heard the cocktails were rather good. Whilst staying at the Hilton I decided to pop upstairs to see what all the fuss was about before we headed out in to town to dance away the night.

Typically, the night we were staying at the Hilton the weather was being unforgiving and it was pouring it down with rain by the evening. Thus meaning no cocktails on the balcony for us, there were a few smokers braving the elements (is it really worth it) and I think the staff were feeling the effect of the weather inside too as it wasn’t awfully busy. I guess the main attraction really is that outside terrace with a view. Nevertheless, we ordered a couple of cocktails each and admired the view from the large windows, watching the lights twinkle in the rain.

The cocktails are around £1-3 more expensive than in other bars in the city, but on the other hand they are also on par with other bars (such as The Alchemist). A fan of the programme First Dates, I had noticed that the new ‘in’ drink (I realise this makes me sound old) is the ‘Pornstar Martini’. I ordered my first Pornstar Martini here and also ordered a raspberry gingery cocktail I an't remember the name of now for D. Despite the bar not being very busy (in comparison to others in the city) the staff still seemed a little rushed off their feet, with most people ordering cocktails it was taking them some time to prepare just one round of drinks. My drink was supposed to come with a passion-fruit delicately floating on the top but unfortunately the lady behind the bar dropped it in to the glass and it sunk, to which she replied “oops” and slid it towards me. Despite the mishap with the fruit I actually quite enjoyed my first experience of a Pornstar Martini and I think I’d definitely order one again. I made a good decision for D too, I could have easily have drunk half a dozen of what he had (if money was no object) and he said he liked it too.

Enough of the evening, what is it like during the day?

The Sky Lounge, it appears, is where residents of the hotel take breakfast in the morning (if you’ve paid the additional extra). The website advertises brunch as starting at 11am, and I was invited to try it from this time. I checked out of our room just after 11am and asked the receptionist (concierge, checkout person???) if they could make us a booking for brunch so we could get sat straight down once we’d put our luggage in our car.

We arrived upstairs around 11.10-11.15am (and after a little hanging around waiting for someone to notice us) to be told that brunch didn’t start until 11.30am. A little annoying as we would have probably had stayed in our hotel room 30 minutes longer (checkout isn’t until 12pm). We were told that we could help ourselves to the leftover breakfast buffet whilst we waited if wanted to and that they would bring us some tea or coffee out.

I asked the waiter whether he thought it was warm enough to sit outside on the terrace, we hadn’t got to enjoy the night before so I was eager to at least step out there just the once. He shrugged his shoulders at me and said he didn’t know as he hadn’t been out there, he added that others were out there so it couldn’t be that bad. We decided to sit by the window, the table hadn’t yet been cleared from breakfast so this was done as we sat down. After a couple of minutes of sitting by the door that was constantly being opened by people entering and exiting the terrace we decided to chance it and sit outside.

Coffee was served to us, the only option was filter, I would have preferred a latte/flat white etc. but this appeared not to be on offer. It wasn’t the greatest coffee in the world and I wished I had ordered a point of tea instead. I nipped in to the breakfast buffet to see if there was anything that could tie us over until brunch officially started, there were a few mini pastries left which I took outside on a dish, as there were no plates left. I noticed later that the pastries were left out for the brunchers with just the fruit and cereal cleared.

The brunch menu is two courses for £20, I couldn’t see an option for just one course and there were no individual prices. It’s a different concept to what I have seen before in brunch offerings. I personally was struggling to find two courses that wouldn’t leave me doubling up on certain things, for example having bacon for both courses, or having eggs for both courses. D hadn’t put as much thought in to this as me, as you will see.

To start I ordered the French Toast with cherry compote, toasted almonds and creme fraiche.

I wouldn’t normally order ‘sweet’ French toast, or Eggy Bread as we referred to it in my family home, I see it more as a savoury dish. I know it is often served sweet but it just didn’t cut the mustard for me (there was no mustard, that would have been horrendous), I think I’ll stick to savoury in future. The toppings were reminiscent of a brunch dish I had had the day before at North Star Coffee House, except the French Toast was replaced with house made brioche, a combination I preferred.

D started with the grilled asparagus, he thought it odd to have asparagus for breakfast but he is a stickler for asparagus so ordered it anyway. I don’t think he read further than asparagus as it also came with poached eggs, a fairly normal accompaniment but it meant that D was going to be having four eggs for brunch.

For mains I ordered the Eggs Benedict, you can chose two accompaniments for your dish and so I opted for bacon and spinach. The eggs were served perfectly, no egg snot, runny yolks and plenty of hollandaise sauce. The bacon and spinach were cooked well and the only thing left on my plate at the end was some muffin, I had double carbed after all!

D ordered the ‘Sky Breakfast’ which is essentially a cooked breakfast and includes grilled tomatoes, eggs, bacon, sausage and mushrooms. D asked for his breakfast without mushrooms and opted for his eggs to be poached…. Thus meaning he had double poached eggs. The breakfast had caught D’s eye whilst we were waiting and it was being served to those who were breakfasting and not brunching. It looked slightly different when D was presented with his for brunch and I couldn’t quite work out what had made it look so appetising at breakfast but less so as brunch, surely it couldn’t have only had been the absence of mushrooms? Either way, D said that he enjoyed it and he was pretty full after the two courses and copious amounts of orange juice he had consumed.It could have done with some beans and hashbrowns in my opinion, but that could just be my preference.

Although the views are great from Sky Lounge, and I’m sure it’s much more pleasant on a sunny day, I think I preferred to be there in the evening rather than during the day. A big part of my morning routine is coffee, being a coffee snob too the coffee has to be right. I think this would sway my choice of brunch over the view any day, plus I’m not overly fussed about having two dishes, just the one would have sufficed.

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