Crafthouse has given seafood star billing on their summer a la carte menu and boy do these dishes shine in the spotlight. Showcasing more gastronomic wizardry from Yorkshire-born Chef Murray Wilson, we found his latest creations to be blessed with a symphony of flavours that are nothing short of masterful.
Having just returned from a week in Sicily eating surprisingly mediocre food, my taste buds were crying out for something special. From bland arancini to rubbery sea critters, my Italian holiday was yet another reminder that we’re damned lucky here in the UK these days when it comes to top-notch cuisine.
In 2020, more than ever, there’s little room for ‘average’ or ‘okay’. As this was my fourth time dining at Crafthouse in just two years, I was confident I was about to have my faith in food restored. Executive Chef Murray Wilson has got some serious cooking chops, with a resume that includes Horto at Rudding Park, Harrogate’s Hotel Du Vin, and Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s in London. This guy knows his stuff.
The restaurant itself packs some serious style and has a modern-industrial feel with its material palette of oak, marble, black ceramics, and dark, chocolatey leather. Seated close to the light, airy terrace, we enjoyed a welcome glass of Prosecco as we checked out the online menu.
The new post-pandemic way of doing restaurants has had little impact on Crafthouse, which is large and spacious enough to guarantee intimacy throughout. As always, the latest menu is a relatively small but incredibly well-crafted British offering, with dashes of inspiration from Europe and Asia.
I began with the Laverstoke Park Buffalo Mozzarella, which hails from an organic farm in Hampshire run by ex-Formula One driver Jody Sheckter. Sourced from water buffalo reared on a diet of grass featuring no less than 31 herbs and clovers, this soft, creamy mozzarella is sweet, tangy, and undeniably moreish.
Served with vibrant red tomatoes, pine nuts and beer vinegar dressing, this is a classic example of a simple dish that’s been elevated to greatness. Across the table, the Scottish Scallops with cauliflower, Tom Yum and oyster sauce were going down so well I feared I may not get a look in.
Drizzled in a deliciously sweet and sour Tom Yum and oyster sauce, the plump and oversized scallops melt like a snowflake as soon as they leave your fork. Our choice of wine couldn’t have been better either. The Sileni Estate Cellar Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc proved that New Zealand is still at the top of the game when it comes to easy-drinking whites.
After such an excellent start, it was reassuring when the mains stepped things up a level. The North Sea Cod hadn’t immediately grabbed me on the menu, but the addition of the crab summer roll, white cabbage and gloriously oily baked potato puree was a belter.
The dish of the day for me, however, was the Spiced Roasted Monkfish. Served on a bed of tasty lentils du puy, the addition of the onion bhaji with yoghurt and mint was a brave move that paid off in spades. The delicate, fluffy batter of the bhaji was a million miles away from the grease normally associated with this classic side and worked a treat with the meaty, lightly spiced monkfish.
A short post-mains break allowed room for dessert, and I advise anyone that attends Crafthouse to reserve space for pudding. The Chocolate Fondant with Tonka Bean is well worth its 20-minute wait and is essential for chocoholics with its rich, gooey filling.
The Strawberry and White Chocolate Delice rounded off an exceptional meal and looks and tastes just as good as it sounds with its calorific side serving of clotted cream, raspberry, and vanilla. By far the best experience I’ve had at Crafthouse, this is how you do fuss-free fine dining properly.
Words and photography by Jordan Fletcher.
Crafthouse, Level 5 Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6HW. Tel: 0113 897 0444.