This weekend has been mostly spent telling anyone who will listen about my amazing discovery.
With the breathless conviction of a freshly converted zealot, friends, family and relative strangers have all been regaled by stories of the amazing meal we had at the Radisson in Leeds.
“It was incredible...best we’ve had in years... a revelation... and such good value!” I’m beginning to annoy myself a bit now but honestly, it just has to be said.
Head chef Mick Hart is doing amazing work in the kitchens of the Lounge restaurant and bar at the Radisson, the tastefully converted former home of the Leeds Permanent Building Society.
Brought in last year after capturing the lucrative Best City Centre Restaurant accolade at the Evening Post’s Oliver awards for his former employers Chino Latino, Mick is passionate about creating the very best, freshest and flavoursome food.
To start, a grilled goats cheese salad with sweet potato wafers and avocado salsa was a revelation and something of a work of art. This belonged in the very highest echelons of the restaurant world – how could it be part of a three-courses-for- £22 menu? Husband’s crispy squid with chilli, lime, coriander and rapeseed dressing was equally impressive.
My main course of vegetable lasagne tube with roast vegetable layers, red pepper tomato coulis and basil oil was a thing of beauty. Not for this creation was a mound of soggy, calorie-laden pasta and bitter tomato sauce.
Mick explained than as an alternative to pasta (all but one of the main courses is free from gluten) he uses fresh vegetables stretched then layered.
Korean barbecue lamb in a red pepper marinade with mange tout, salsa and chilli mint dressing was a meaty, tangy delight and was accompanied by the most deliciously seasoned baby potatoes known to man.
By this point we were seriously impressed, so when my dessert of chocolate sushi arrived I was for once lost for words. The ‘rice’ is coconut ice cream, the ‘seaweed’ wafer-thin dark chocolate – it even comes with cherries and a ginseng syrup that can produce its own mist (yes, really). By this point the kitchen was just showing off.
The intriguingly christened Leeds-Harrogate pays homage to the fact that the 2014 Tour de France will be kicking off in Leeds. It also makes a substantial nod to the famous French dessert Paris-Brest, with incredibly light choux pastry, fresh berries and enough fresh whipped cream to cover Sir Wiggins’s sideboards several times over.
It was all we could do to stagger upstairs to recline on our king-size bed in the business class suite and discuss how utterly blown away we were. Even the fact that there was an enormous flat-screen telly couldn’t make husband tear himself away from scouring the menu time and again, speculating on what the Malaysian chicken might be like, or how about the Gressingham duck breast.
Those in the throes of a 1920s obsession courtesy of the forthcoming Great Gatsby film will by enthralled by the hotel’s art deco splendour, most evident in the swish bar area.
Its conversion in 2002 from offices to hotel has been carried out sympathetically but with aplomb. Our room featured not only acres of glorious original wood panelling but also lamps and even a clock from the building’s former incarnation.
The spacious bathroom featured spectacular tiling, an array of toiletries from Paris and the fluffiest fluffy towels imaginable.
The grade II listed building actually forms part of the Light complex, and will be right at the centre of the action when the Tour de France does descend in July next year.
But to be honest to do it justice the restaurant could do with a separate on-street entrance – and possibly an enormous flashing sign saying ‘Get your amazing food here’.