Friday, 12 February 2016

Life: new menu tasting at Black Swan Leeds

The first time I visited Black Swan was for the Leeds Xmas Meet back in December. Before this, I'd heard so much about the delicious food on top of a traditional rustic pub meets industrial city vibe yet I'd never been to try the tantalising tastes. Luckily, I was kindly invited back there to trial their new February winter to spring menu and I wasn't disappointed! Black Swan has such a lovely, warm feel to it; with the cosy dimmed lighting (albeit not great for a non-high quality camera), friendly service and wooden interior. You're instantly welcomed on arrival and in such a handy location, it's the perfect unwinding venture for a classic sit down meal with grade A chef skills. That was my conclusion at the end of a rainy Tuesday evening last week.

Sheltering from the downpour, I was greeted with a choice of alcoholic beverages; it was either a trio of speciality beer or some house wines. I went for the rose wine as although I'm not a huge wine lover, I don't mind some sparkling rose now and again and as my novice alcohol reviews go, it was considerably enjoyable. Guided up to the main restaurant area and seated at attentively decorated booths filled with very Instagramable flowers (more on that later), it gave me a chance to have a catch up with some lovely Leeds bloggers whilst eagerly awaiting our upcoming food with the scent wafting from the kitchen.

Our table was first to receive a selection of starters to share (although the priority soon vanished). Served on large spoons and flat plates, we were ready to tuck into the delicious dishes. First up was the Leek and Pearl Barley Risotto which was right up my street, greatly flavoured veg and rice combined into a simple sauce was spot on. Next was Duck Oxo Cube; having never tried duck before I was hesitantly curious but was pleasantly surprised by the delectable seasoning, this was seriously good and cooked to perfection. Thirdly, we had another couple of tasters that were way farther than my boring catering decisions has ever taken me but interesting to say the least. I was strangely nervous to try the Venison Carpaccio but it was so relishing, and wrapped in a crisp, topped with the picked shallots and sherry vinaigrette, it added some extra spice. As much as I love experimenting with foods I wouldn't usually touch at events, I still can't get past my dislike for fish so I avoided the Salmon and Crab Scotch Egg but judging by the competition as to who would pinch mine, it was superbly savoured. 

Saving the best till last (we actually had this as a first main but it's on the starter menu), I went all googly eyed with one of my favourite recipes, Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi. Scream spinach teamed with any carbs at me and I'm there in a shot. I can't even describe how amazing this was. The doughiness was balanced just right, the artichoke crisps were a pleasant bonus and all ingredients managed to be wholly combined with a hint of cheesy distinctiveness remaining. It's making me hungry just dreaming about it! When I head back there (and I certainly will be), that's top of my list for ordering. 

Moving on to mains; once again, I swiftly avoided the fish with the Pan Fried Sea Bass (despite it being placed directly in front of me, cue nostril closing) but I heard from everyone else that it was lovely, and the butternut squash puree, roasted squash, baby leek and mushroom filled pasta that came with it did seem seriously appetising. Realising chicken was on the menu for the night, I was thrilled. Chicken is the only meat I eat religiously and the one I can honestly say I don't turn my fussy nose up at. Their Roast Chicken Breast with pancetta rosti and garnished with curly kale, roasted shallot and a beautiful mushroom puree was incredible (did I ever tell you how much I love mushroom on absolutely anything??). It was so succulent, every piece was tender and it melted in your mouth. I may have even outwardly performed the mmm action with every bite. Top notch stuff there.

I'm not a veggie but I may as well be! I don't have pasta based dishes often but when I do I rekindle my idolisation for them. I would have gladly sacrificed a meaty meal for the Spiced Courgette and Tomato Lasagne. It was absolutely gorgeous and provided a subtle amount of elements to get excited about, especially with the pumpkin seed salad and vegetable crisps. 

Finally, we were blessed with some indulgent desserts to wash down the rest of the goodness. A platter filled with miniatures is always a winner, especially when the afters that arrive are a step away from your average cake based desserts and offer a touch of variety. I'm not a creme brulee lover but this Stewed Rhubarb and Ginger Creme Brulee was a delightful zest and it's put me on the brulee path! The Spiced Rum Poached Pineapple was a little too bitter for my liking, it wouldn't have been something I would have personally picked but kudos for mixing up the ordinary. The Northern Bloc Ice Cream with roasted strawberry, white chocolate and popcorn was a wonderful combo and my favourite of the lot, the Dark Chocolate Tart paired with the chewiest (but addictive) honeycomb possible and bourbon vanilla ice cream cured all my sweet tooth cravings. Then to complete a fabulous night, we were granted with a morsel of coffee (which fyi, I did not shot). 

It was an extremely blogger-tastic evening at the Black Swan as a competition for best flower photo taking took place after Rhianna's unbeatable entry, but it was a brilliant one at that. We were spoiled rotten both with being tended to and the food and I can't thank the staff (and Simon from I Like Press for inviting me along) enough! I'd highly recommend a visit and I can't wait to go back and try the full portions allll for myself. For a girl who loves her food, it's definitely up there with the highest ranked.

Have you ever been to Black Swan? Where's your favourite place to eat?

Have a happy weekend!
Bridie x

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