My lunch at Leeds hottest new dining venue

I’m still licking my lips following my delicious lunch today at Crafthouse restaurant, one of the new dining venues in the Trinity Leeds shopping centre I’ve grown to love so much since it opened in March.

Having the centre on the doorstep of my office has proved far too tempting for me to pop in every day but this was my first visit to Crafthouse on the second floor.

I’d been invited by the lovely Sharon Brigden of SLB PR who also looks after their sister restaurant in the centre, Angelica, plus Cielo Blanco the restaurant I also had the pleasure of trying on Trinity’s opening day. Sharon’s client list reads like a who’s who in the restaurant and bar world.

Sharon introduced me to Executive Chef Lee Bennett who worked with Gordon Ramsay at the Savoy Grill then spent time down in Singapore at the Swissotel, heading up a team of 52 chefs.  He’s a dynamic young talent who has launched Crafthouse as a british dining venue which has locally sourced produce and seasonally changing menus.

Lee is a Yorkshireman hailing from Bridlington, and uses his local knowledge of the coastline to source the freshest seafood to serve up in innovative fashion at Crafthouse.

I was lucky enough to be treated to a fishy feast of Lobster Bisque followed by Dover Sole (which I’ve now been educated by Lee to learn is better eaten on the bone!).

It felt like grown up, relaxed dining at lunchtime and was quiet enough so you could conduct a business meeting without shouting above the throng, but still had atmosphere. I really loved the outdoor terrace which is sheltered below Angelica’s terrace on the floor above and next to the domed roof of Trinity so you are protected from wild Yorkshire wind but can still enjoy viewing the rooftops of Leeds from angles you have never seen before.

Now summer seems to have finally arrived, I’ll definitely be re-visiting that terrace for post dinner drinks to enjoy it’s chilled out music. There are funky heaters of course to take off that chill after sundown.

My lunch was rounded off perfectly (not that I thought I had any room left) with a platter of mini doughnuts, made in exactly the same way as you find at the seaside, to dip in chocolate or cream then if that wasn’t enough came the dessert tray . This sweet feast contained a chocolate torte, lemon posset, sherry trifle and passion fruit soufflé which were all to die for and imaginatively presented - fantastic value at £18 I thought.

Lee is certainly passionate about his food but also about his guests experience. He has a no overcrowding policy which can be frustrating if there’s a queue outside as diners never want to leave once they’re in for the evening.  A novel option though if all the tables are taken is to choose to sit at the Chef’s counter where there are 8 seats directly facing all the action.  I think he’s learned to tone down his language since his Gordon Ramsay days though so it won’t be a bleep fest of a dining experience.

I’d love to have cooking lessons with Lee and his team but at the moment they are so busy serving customers they can’t fit it in, but hopefully he might take me up on my invitation to come along and cook for me at my place, Carr Hall Castle.

Hopefully I’ll get the chance to try Angelica upstairs for brunch soon too, I’m told they make fab cocktails, although mine will be virgin being teetotal.