22 July 2014

If you go down to The Woods today. . .

Exciting new restaurants seem to be springing up like (very welcome) weeds round Leeds at the moment, and last week I had the opportunity to visit one of these fine new establishments, The Woods, in Chapel Allerton.

places to eat in chapel allerton
Not being entirely familiar with the area, and my satnav tending to be a touch erratic from time to time, I did worry a bit about finding the place but all of a sudden it was in front of me and before I knew it I was settled in my seat perusing the extensive menu.
My dining partner opted for the Suckling Pig - served with apple sauce and roast potatoes. For once I didn't pinch any, as I'm not really a pork fan (though I even I could see this looked pretty good!) but a completely clean plate in record time after it arriving assured me this went down very well.

the woods main meals

I went for the Venison Steak, with rustic mashed potato. Oh My. My venison experiences up to this point have been limited, but I was feeling fairly confident about my decision going in, and I was not let down in the slightest. This was gorgeous. I am generally remarkably picky about meat and always end up cutting off and discarding bits of it - but not with this. The 'rustic' (meaning a bit lumpy, with bits of skin, but in a good way!) garlic mash was delicious too!

good food leeds
The dishes, unless otherwise stated, aren't served with vegetables as standard but these are available in a variety of side dishes. I like that the choice of vegetables means that you aren't stuck with something you really don't like on your plate,.. but, being completely disorganised and not thinking things through meant that we didn't order any. Oops! It was only on the way home I realised that we'd not had any - we didn't miss them during the meal, which was completely satisfying on its own, it was just more of a 'we're adults, we should eat veggies' kind of afterthought!

It's only really relatively recently that I've realised cocktails can be a thing of absolute delight and wonder, rather than the lets-poor-all-the-booze-in-a-pan 'cocktails' of my student days, but I was very confident in The Woods ability to put together something special. It had to be one of the 'Woods Creations', and I quickly settled on the intriguing Smoke and Fire - Santa Theresa Orange Rhum, Caramel Syrup and Orange Bitters Infused With Bourbon Smoke.

cocktails leeds

I was given the opportunity to see the cocktail put together when a tray full of intriguing and dangerous looking equipment (including mini blow torch) was brought to the table for a full demonstration. I wont go into the ins and outs of how it was created, but will just tell you it was divine. The caramel and orange make it taste like Christmas (and I've been assured a warm version of this will be available in the winter months, that will be worth looking out for!), but it looks a lot more sophisticated when complete than many of the bright and fruity cocktails I'm more familiar with.

the woods desserts

And obviously I had to finish off with some sort of dessert. A sharing platter, like the one we got at The Woods, is one of my favourite things because it gives me the opportunity to try a few different things out. Especially after a big meal, I don't always need a big dessert, but do like a little something sweet just to round it all off, and it can be hard making a decision, so this was perfect. A couple of little tasters each of the chocolate brownie, lemon meringue pie, and cheesecake were just enough to finish us off and give us an indication of which full-sized dish we would go for next time (cheesecake for me, brownie for him!).

I've mainly rambled on about the food so far, and while the food is good - really good - it's only a small part of what makes The Woods special. The restaurant, where most of our evening was spend, is on the second floor - with the floor below playing home to the main bar area, but with a 'cosy area' for day time story telling sessions for kids. The top floor is for live music and cinema screenings, as well as holding fitness classes during the day time. There's outdoor seating at the top and bottom too - perfect for the current weather!
There seems to be plenty going on at The Woods. The free 'Kids Cinema Club' film screenings showing throughout the school holidays are particularly appealing as trying to entertain the little ones without spending a fortune over the long summer break isn't as easy task. Between the film screenings, xbox sessions and storytelling times, I'm sure this place will become a valuable resource for exhausted local parents in the school holidays and we're likely to be calling a visit or two before heading back to school in September!

*Meal provided free of charge

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