Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Dine at the Mansion, Roundhay Park, Leeds
PUBLISHED: 16:06 26 April 2011 | UPDATED: 20:01 02 November 2015
Guests enjoy breathtaking parkland views as they join us for lunch at one of Leeds' iconic buildings. Jo Haywood reports Photographs by Andy Bulmer
The colonnaded grandeur of The Mansion in Leeds with its sweeping views across one of Europe’s largest parks meant the food at our lunch had a lot to live up to.
Only the very best in fine dining could match the tree-lined drives, immaculately restored interiors and grade II listed splendour of this recently revamped venue, which sits on a gentle slope overlooking Roundhay Park. And only the very best in fine dining was exactly what we got.
A beautifully constructed first course of delicately flavoured Kilnsey trout in a light and fragrant crème fraiche and rapeseed dressing got proceedings off to a mouth-watering start. This was a wonderfully well-balanced dish, offset to perfection by a dense and nutty side oven mini brown loaf.
Next came a sublime cannon of Nidderdale spring lamb comprising butter-soft rounds of rosy meat and croquettes of shredded shoulder with a flavour so deep you needed a miner’s helmet to get anywhere near the bottom of it. Teamed with sculpted root vegetables, a golden fondant potato and a light broth, it was spring on a plate.
Pudding had a distinct regional flavour with a fine tart of Yorkshire rhubarb, a rhubarb crumble semi-freddo infused with mini boulders of parkin, rhubarb curd with orange zest and a rhubarb crisp. Yes, it encouraged us all to talk a lot of old rhubarb, but in a very good way.
At this point the menu said we were due to enjoy a Yorkshire cheeseboard, but this was a prime case of misleading advertising. We were not, in fact, presented with a board of any kind; it was a sumptuous, groaning table of dairy delights.
Diners who minutes earlier had said they couldn’t manage another mouthful were tempted to yet another plateful of truly great cheese and a few mulled apricots, and the odd grape or two, and maybe a fig, and some warm bread, and just a couple of pickled onions. But that’s it. Apart from a spoon or two of piquant Yorkshire piccalilli.
It was a veritable feast, which was more than appropriate as The Mansion is now a real feast for the eyes. The venue has come a long way in a relatively short time, but Daniel Gill, managing director of Dine, never had a moment’s doubt about its immense potential.
‘I knew instinctively that this was the place for us,’ he said, as we sat sipping prosecco in an elegant nook under its sweeping staircase. ‘It was a fantastic challenge that we just couldn’t pass up. I loved the building from the moment I walked through the door and knew we could make it work.
‘Leeds City Council, which owns the building, has been very supportive and trusting. This building belongs to the people of Leeds, and that’s something we’ll never forget.’
The Mansion had been closed and empty for five years before Dine took over. The fabric of the building was sound but it needed a complete interior overhaul.
‘I’ve kept a close eye on everything, from the sanding of the wood to the central chandelier,’ said Daniel. ‘I know the devil is always in the detail, and it’s up to me to make sure the detail is spot on. This project has been very personal for me. It’s a privilege to be given a building like this.’
Our food and drink consultant Annie Stirk said: ‘I particularly loved the cute canapés served in a contemporary style on mirrored platters. And it was such a treat to stand on the terrace taking in the rolling acres of Roundhay Park while sipping champagne.’
The Garden Room Restaurant at The Mansion, Mansion Lane, Roundhay Park, Leeds, LS8 2HH.
Ballontine of Kilnsey trout confit with crème fraiche, rapeseed dressing, micro herbs and a side-oven, mini brown loaf
Cannon of Nidderdale spring lamb with a lamb shoulder croquette, Yorkshire root vegetables, a mini fondant potato and a light lamb broth
Fine tart of Yorkshire rhubarb with a rhubarb crumble and Yorkshire parkin semi-freddo, rhubarb and orange zest curd and a rhubarb crisp
Yorkshire cheeseboard with mulled apricots, white grapes, baby figs, warm breads, baby pickled onions and Yorkshire piccalilli
Pallio Di San Floriano Verdicchio, Monte Schiavo, Italy: this coastal wine fits neatly with seafood, providing length, flavour and a good degree of texture.
La Citadelle Sablet Cote du Rhone Village, France: soft and leathery with a wonderful perfumed lift, this is long on flavour and caresses the tastebuds in a most pleasing way.
All the wines for our lunch were provided by Hoults Wine Merchants of Huddersfield. For more information, visit hoults.com.