If you have previous experience of fine dining, then a fixed taster menu will (most likely) be nothing new to you. However, if you’ve never immersed yourself in this world, it can be a little daunting. Since you’re not in control of the dishes and paired drinks being served, how can you know you’re going to like them? How can you know you’re going to enjoy the entire restaurant experience? You can’t. That’s the most daunting thing, you have to rest totally in the hands of the chefs, managers and bartenders. Fortunately, Luke Downing, Dean Railton and Ross Grindlay at the helm. So, you can rest easy, and know that you’re in safe hands the whole way through.

The premise is relatively simple

The most popular dishes that were featured on the 5 course menu upstairs are now available in the bar. You can pick as many or as few as you want. So if you want nothing but savoury, or nothing but sweet, or everything in between — there’s something for you. It’s like fine dining tapas, you can have them in any order and either share them or keep them to yourself. Now, at this point you might be thinking of trying to book a table one day or evening. You can’t. Tables are seated on a first come, first serve basis and there’s absolutely no bookings.

If you don’t want to wait for a table or don’t fancy venturing to New Briggate, then don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out. All of the dishes served in the bar are available on Deliveroo, and so is a selected cocktail list! The biggest concern that then comes to mind is:

“How in the hell do you transport fine dining foods and cocktails on a bike?”

Well, the team have come up with (and then repeatedly tested) their solutions. All of the dishes in the bar are designed and packaged to withstand the journey. The cocktails are put into wax sealed bottles that are designed to be shaken, cracked open, and poured straight into the glass.

But, we’re not here to talk about the Deliveroo menu, not today at least. So, with that out of the way, let’s get back to the taster menu at hand. The various dishes are all taken from the bar menu, giving us a sample of each section, but you may have other favourites — try them all and let us know!

The Food

We began with a light and refreshing peachy cocktail, that danced along the palate and made us what would come next.¬†Every course was explained thoroughly as our mouths watered and listened to the words delivered to us as our food was placed down in front of us. Plates of local meats and cheeses were decorated with figs, pickled vegetables and chutneys and accompanied with warm, fresh biscuit and oat breads. The smoked butters and truffle butters surprised us with their potency, and everyone had a different favourite (ours was the chilli butter). The portions were larger than you’d expect from typical tapas, and by the end we were more than full! But before we get to that point, let’s get onto the other courses we sampled…

Black truffle arancini by Vice and Virtue Leeds

Black truffle arancini by Vice and Virtue Leeds

Next up was the black truffle arancini, which steamed and let out their incredible scent as you cut into them. To oversimplify them, arancini are deep fried balls of risotto which are crunchy, and soft, and oh so good! Although mayo isn’t normally something we’d add to anything, the little touches of them contrasted with the rich flavour of the truffle and made the taste that much sweeter. Along with it came the ‘Autumn Woods’ cocktail which tasted like a cross between a springtime meadow and an autumn woodland — funny that. Don’t be put off by the sound of mushroom vermouth and a wheatgrass rim, it adds something new to what is otherwise a classic fruity combination.

Autumn woods cocktail by Vice and Virtue Leeds

Autumn woods cocktail by Vice and Virtue Leeds

After that, we received salmon tartare, which wasn’t a personal favourite, but that’s the joy of fine dining. It pushes your usual food boundaries, shows you what you like and don’t like, and it can surprise you in the best ways. The salmon’s taste was fresh and lively, and was topped with a delicate serving of caviar and micro cress. It came with an equally fresh cocktail, a ‘Wasabi Dream’, which couples gin with lemon and wasabi, and it isn’t as scary as you might think! But, if tartare and wasabi aren’t for you, the next course might be.

Giant, blue cheese stuffed buffalo meatball. Yes, you read that correctly, but you’re not drooling in the way that we were. This was, and is, restaurant manager Ross’ favourite course, and one he wanted us all to try. Presented on a delicate bed of ragu sauce and topped with shoestring fine fries, this was the largest course we faced all evening! Cooked perfectly, the meat was soft and the cheese gently oozed out when cut. Paired with it was their Amarone wine, which every person in the room adored. Its flavour lingered on the tongue and made you sad when it was over.

Octomore sticky toffee cake by vice and virtue leeds

Octomore sticky toffee cake by vice and virtue leeds

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, dessert arrived and stopped all protests about being too full to eat ever again. The classic toffee pudding we all know and love was combined with Octomore Scotch whisky, Ardberg caramel and liquorice ice cream. The slight smokiness of the whisky made the cake taste that much richer, and the liquorice ice cream won over even the liquorice haters in the room. All of this came with the most indulgent dessert wine we’ve ever had — the Rubis chocolate red wine. Unlike other wines which claim to taste like chocolate but only smell like it, this wine truly packs a chocolatey punch. The only thing better than the wine itself was watching everyone’s first reactions to it — the surprise followed by delight which made its way across faces around the room.

rubis chocolate red wine by vice and virtue leeds

rubis chocolate red wine by vice and virtue leeds

When it was all over, we were sad to go, but stuffed full of rich food and incredible alcohols. We’ve been back since to try other menu items! Insider tip from us to you — try the dark chocolate and chilli torte with raspberry Chantilly cream. Just trust us on that…

By Parker, Restaurants of Leeds Share this story