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Anthony’s Restaurant

Jonathan Schofield takes Confidential on a restaurant excursion and gets jealous in Leeds

Written by . Published on August 9th 2007.

Anthony’s Restaurant

Anthony’s. Leeds. Bloody hell, that was good.

My dining companion said: “You know, I think this is the best food I’ve ever tasted”. I can’t really go that far but the food was up there with some of my favourite meals. It certainly equalled anything I’ve tasted in the North of England. In fact it was probably better than anything I’ve tasted in the North when it comes to fancy-dan fare.

The theme of the meal was opposites attract, sweet versus sour, rough with the smooth. A clever game which we thoroughly enjoyed

My colleague, Gordo, winsomely argued a couple of weeks ago in his River Restaurant review that we perhaps don’t have fine dining in the grand style anymore and he’s right. But of course chefs still have the loftiest aspirations.

Anthony Flynn is one of these.

He has to be good just to get over an unforgiving location. The restaurant is on Boar Lane close to Leeds Station, which is a bit like putting it next to Yates’s on Portland Street. It has a ground floor with a handsome bar, booth seating, gentle music and an air of slick, subtle luxury. This is where you order your food and get in the mood with a pre-meal drink.

We had pink champagne in a Footballers’ Wives moment, sat in a booth opposite plate-glass windows. The view was of a typical Leeds night unfolding in all its Viennese sophistication. This consisted of a tramp urinating in a doorway and being moved on by Police in flak-jackets. “Have you chosen?” asked a waiter at this exact moment getting in the way of the view.

“Can you give us a minute, so we can watch the arrest?” I said for the first time perhaps in the history of restaurants.

You eat downstairs in the basement, in an opulent if very white space, which is decoratively cautious, even bland.

Presumably this works in the same way as the superb 2002 Hopkins’ extension to Manchester Art Gallery: a blank space in which to focus your attention on the main event, in this case, the food. After all, Anthony’s grub is presented like a series of edible artworks.

I started with a quite superb, roast lamb sweetbread with a potato curly wurly, which was refined and rich at the same moment, and clearly stated from the off that we were in for a treat.

Girl opposite began with the roast baby squid with mozzarella and pepper candy floss. This was a startling combination of textures and flavours which pulled in different directions. It was the one dish of the meal where there was too much obvious showmanship. Still at least the candy floss was perfectly fluffy and light while the squid was just chewy enough whilst still being tender and bouncy.

Mains were the roast John Dory with chicken popcorn and pea and green olive sorbet. Here the sweet, the tangy and the savoury worked together much better than in the previous dish.

I fell in love with my main of roast squab, bonito pearls and mandarin. It was perfectly clever and perfectly delicious. The squab underlined the skills in the kitchen. With this dainty bird you have to time things just right. You want the flesh to retain texture and definition but this can lead to mistakes and the thing becoming a dried husk. Not here, you got the texture and exquisite moistness. The handling, in other words, was immaculate: the bonito pearls were a real treat too.

My companion for dessert went for chocolate mousse balls and peanut ice cream. “The ice cream is nutty and crowned with a foamy fennel caramel which is frothy, moist and delicious,” she announced, “and no you can’t have any.”

I had the pear crumble with smoked brie ice cream which was better than her dessert simply because it had to be as it was the best pudding I’ve ever had in the North of England. And, of course, I couldn’t check if hers was as good because she’d wolfed it down before allowing me, the reviewer, so much as a spoonful.

As you probably guessed the theme of the meal was opposites attract, sweet versus sour, rough with the smooth. A clever game which we thoroughly enjoyed. The influence of Ferran Adria at El Bulli restaurant in Spain, where Flynn has worked, comes through. Two courses from the à la carte, by the way, are £34 and three courses £42.

Wine was a 2003 Chateau Haut Montplaisier (£27.10). It was very good: the overwhelmingly excellent food made me forget to take notes so ‘very good’ will have to do.

Service was exemplary apart from the rather alarming process of being escorted to the toilets by waiters. Anthony’s should stop that, there’s only so much service you need provide. This and that white sepulchre of a dining room were the only galling elements. White is the colour of death in China and does the restaurant no favours here.

Otherwise this was a truly lovely meal containing all the elements of a flawless restaurant experience, inspiring and delicious food, very good wine, good service and totally delightful company. And a pissing tramp.
Well, maybe not that bit.

Rating: 19/20
Breakdown: 11.5/10 Food
4/5 Service
3.5/5 Ambience
Address: Anthony’s
19 Boar Lane
0113 245 5922

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28 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

yardyAugust 9th 2007.

Hmm, yes, but another restaurant that doesn't want my custom... On looking at the menus I have to ask how really good is a another chef who doesn't care about vegetarians?

AnonymousAugust 9th 2007.

I don't mind a bit of character but this is a bit intimate! the whole 'gastroporn' trend is bit overdone isn't it?

AnonymousAugust 9th 2007.

sounds very romantic!

mirandaAugust 9th 2007.

well know you mention it 'With this dainty bird you have to time things just right. You want the flesh to retain texture and definition but this can lead to mistakes and the thing becoming a dried husk. Not here, you got the texture and exquisite moistness. The handling, in other words, was immaculate' is a bit food porn. Or is it just the regular kind?

EmmaAugust 9th 2007.

Why is this article so patronising to the North ?

GinaAugust 9th 2007.

what's sordid? the food or the writer salivating at some 'totally delightful company' i.e. a hottie across the table?

BoAugust 9th 2007.

Wasn't the point not the food was pornographic but the review? And I agree with that sentiment, I'm not really interested in hearing about someone's barely disguised sex life.

WayneAugust 9th 2007.

You sad bastard Anonymous, forensically looking back through web-postings to see if there's been a conspiracy. I bet you think Diana was killed by MI6, Kennedy was nobbled by the CIA and Elvis was whisked away back to his position as a captain on an alien space cruiser. What's that 'just a thought' mean you prissy little fellow. I wonder if you abuse yourself a lot.

secret squirrelAugust 9th 2007.

Why does there have to be a "best" restaurant in the north? There are loads of good ones, all doing their own thing.Anthony's is one of them, Winteringham Fields anyone....SS

BertieAugust 9th 2007.

Oh, Anthony's is sooo 2004. They've not really moved on since not getting their star, and they've been concentrating on Anthony's at Flannels. Though its still a million times better than Juniper.

NeilAugust 9th 2007.

Whilst i would agree that the food is absolutely quality, id suggest that the wine list is perhaps not the greatest. I was also unfortunate enough to be greeted by a door host whose first utterance was "name?". What ever happened to a hello!!! The night improved significantly after that.I would agree that this is THE best restaurant in the North.

AnonymousAugust 9th 2007.

all sounds a bit sordid to me

AnonymousAugust 9th 2007.

after reading the comments through I would not be surprised if Martin and the writer were the same person... just a thought.

soulmacAugust 9th 2007.

kllo, I really enjoyed the coffee foam on the onion risotto. I thought it worked dead well. I reckon the thing about this type of gaff is that it's utterly pretentious - and that's the fun of it. Like Willy Wonka's for grown ups. How come in Manchester we have to travel out to Juniper for a similar expereince?

klloAugust 9th 2007.

They needn't try too hard to be clever when the basics are so obviously in place.White onion risotto with espresso foam for example. Beautifully cooked risotto spoiled with (unoriginal) foam-nonsense and a foul flavour combination.

ShaAugust 9th 2007.

The service can be a little hard to take james, but I´ve been twice and it´s the food that you should be looking out for. I can´t wait to go again and since Anthony´s is spreading across Leeds in Flannels and elsewhere maybe it would be good if he could be persuaded to come to Manchster

MartinAugust 9th 2007.

By the way Brett, I totally agree with your comments

MartinAugust 9th 2007.

Three things I suppose. The anti-Leeds thing is idiotic and so is Fred, Leeds is hardly a great distance from Manchester and shares a lot of similar characteristics. Next I favour personalised food reviews nationally and regionally, I want an insight into the character of the writer so that´s fine and I have no trouble with it. Anthony´s is better than the Manchester restaurants including Juniper at the moment. I´ve eaten in all the big names in lancashire, Cheshire and in West Yorkshire and I think the writer is correct in what he says. I also read just after reading this the review of the River Room at the Lowry and what I feel about that is that the chef is very good but should be allowed to be freer with how he cooks. Then Manchester might replicate Anthonys.

Brett SinclairAugust 9th 2007.

I've eaten at Anthony's and they do tend to over egg the pudding in terms of overly elaborate dishes. It is excellent quality food, however. River Room at Lowry is excellent and has decent ambience considering it is in a large hotel. Fred's parochial comments are idiotic and ill informed. Urban tourism is a huge growth area, largely centred on weekends/short breaks. Perhaps he should go to Blackpool if he wants a more traditional 'holiday' location or, better still, move there and not post any other comments on here. Well this is a rant column after all.

Diane MuirAugust 9th 2007.

In a word - yes Anthonys is by far the best restaurant in the North West! The food is consistantly good and the staff are always fantastic.

FredAugust 9th 2007.

Manc conf are opening al eeds confidential so just to show advertisers the the sort of feedback they can get, they are stuffing MANCHESTER Confidential with sh*te about Leeds. Don't care about leeds malmaison. we have one here and it's hardly a holiday destination. And don't care about where to eat in Leeds. put your users first rather than a fast buck for once will ya. All together now, 'we all hate leeds and we all hate leeds' etc

AdamAugust 9th 2007.

Anthony's is a truly superb restaurant. Confident cooking that surpasses anything that Manchester can offer. The fact that Michelin hasn't recognised this place is a disgrace in my opinion! If Leeds can sustain a restaurant of this quality, then so surely should our own fair city.

JamesAugust 9th 2007.

I went to Anthony´s with my company last year and found the whole experience completely over the top. Not sure whether this reflects on me and my lack of knowledge about so-called fine-dining or not. It wasn´t so much the food it was more the starchy formal service that sticks in my mind.

AnonymousAugust 9th 2007.

Is Jonathan Schofield the pen name of Anthony Flynn ?? Otherwise I haven't a clue which restaurant you dined at but it obviously wasn't Anthonys. You must have low quality restaurants in Manchester to give this praise - People of Leeds have much higher expectations . Its the most pretentious restaurant I 've ever had the mispleasure to eat at. Over Priced - and as Gordon Ramnsey would say - Poncey!! Most Leeds restaurant goers have now seen through the Restauranmt for what it is - average food at extortionate prices. I read a great review recently and someone mentioned its like the emperors new clothes - Fits Anthonys perfectly

AnonymousAugust 9th 2007.

I do think reviewers should leave their personal lives out of it. This is hardly the place for new journalism.

JohnAugust 9th 2007.

Manchester Confidential: Tells you where to eat, where to go out and what's hot in the city you live in. It's about time we annexed Leeds - it's got a lot going for it. Should we expect ManCon to lead in the annexing of Cartmel, Bray and Great Milton in the near future? Exciting.

Thinks Fred is a bit sillyAugust 9th 2007.

Fred. Very grown up comments there pal. Were you meaning to write to The Sport?

MartinAugust 9th 2007.

Food is porn in places like Anthony´s. It´s sustinence and satisfying at a basic level but at this level it´s unneccessary and sort of filthy, that´s why we like it.

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