It’s been quite a year for Vice & Virtue. The strip club turned sports bar turned fine diner only opened just over a year ago, but have quickly built up a solid reputation as one of Leeds best eateries. Luke Downing and his team have seen the fruits of their labour pay off too, in the shape of an Oliver Award for Best Fine Dining, and the city’s only new entry in the 2018 Good Food Guide.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Luke has also overseen the restaurants big refurb, turned the Vice bar into a casual dining area, and launched all new menus. Oh, and he’s also launched a travel-friendly Deliveroo menu that includes champers as well as a host of fast foodie treats.
I paid a visit on a busy Saturday lunchtime to sample the delights of the all-new brunch offering, and discovered bold and daring flavours that have become synonymous with Luke’s restaurants. Vice have done things differently to the many other brunches in Leeds, and gone with a five-course tasting menu with paired cocktails, and what a great idea this turned out to be.
The first thing you notice in the Virtue restaurant is the slick new interior, which is a little bit art-deco with a modern edge (including some eye-catching pink flamingo wallpaper). Along with Frank Sinatra crooning away in the background, the overall ambience was far better than its previous incarnation and more in sync with the Vice experience.
So, onto the food, which began with a pallet cleansing Coconut and Cranberry Bircher with passion fruit. Best described as a posh yoghurt muesli, it was a great way to start and came paired with the Viced Mimosa, which was mixed with Prosecco, raspberry, thyme and pineapple.
This was closely followed by the beautifully presented Juniper Cured Salmon with Beetroot Powder and Miso. The flavours of the juniper and miso really worked well with the salmon, which was further enhanced with the Red Snapper cocktail. Now, I am not a Bloody Mary type of guy, but it turns out that switching vodka for Bombay Sapphire Gin and adding heat with a dash of spice makes for an excellent tipple.
The third dish on the menu was a Black pudding Morcelo Style Croquette, which came perched on a bed of baked beans along with a rhubarb gel. I loved how this dish gave a nod to the traditional English breakfast, but also managed to look and taste unlike anything you’d expect to see in a good old greasy spoon.The black pudding was delicious, and while the paired cocktail might not have been the best match for this particular dish, I didn’t really care as the Martini Spritz with Rubino sous vide, forest fruits and lemonade was awesome.
The final savoury dish was the one I had been looking forward to, and it didn’t let me down. The Buffalo Flank was remarkably good, and had been slow cooked overnight with Arabica Coffee and almond milk. Served on basil and tomato toast with a smidgen of coffee gel and hollandaise, it was by far the heartiest dish on the menu and my personal favourite.
We washed this down with the flavour-packed Cuban Star, which contained Bacardi Carta Blanca, black grape juice, star anise and lime. For dessert, we were treated to the rather striking Macha Green Tea Cherry Roulade, which took me back to childhood when my gran used to serve roulade for pudding (albeit without the green tea of course).
Served with a dollop of cherry ice-cream and pistachio sauce, it was a harmonious flavour combo, further enhanced by a refreshing Breakfast Mojito featuring mandarin and marmalade on top of white rum and mint.
Tasting menus are often bad-mouthed for their inadequate portion size, but there was no chance of us heading across the road to Dixy’s Chicken after this meal, as the portions were spot on. The weird and wacky ingredients may sound pretentious, but they really do challenge the taste-buds with flavour combinations you couldn’t dream up in a million years. We wait with baited breath to see what Vice does next and will be back to find out in the new year.
68 New Briggate
0113 345 0202