Yorkshire Life Luncheon - The New Ellington, York Place, Leeds
PUBLISHED: 00:16 05 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:06 02 November 2015
Guests join us for a pitch perfect lunch at one of Leeds most stylish hotels, as Jo Haywood reports Photographs by Andy Bulmer
If The New Ellington was a jazz standard, it would be laidback and soulful rather than loud and insistent. While this elegant hotel, restaurant and gin bar might be an oasis of luxury in the legal and financial district of Leeds city centre, it is not a place that announces its presence in gaudy, boastful terms. Instead, it takes a rather discreet, understated stance, and is all the more attractive for it.
Its name is a tribute to Duke Ellington, who played the city’s 1958 music festival, and its rich, rather quirky decor has more than a hint of New Orleans about it. Its brightly coloured armchairs and sofas are clustered in conversational groups and its walls adorned with atmospheric artworks that hark back to the jazz era and all its creative hedonism.
The hotel has not been without its problems – first opening in 2008 in a blaze of publicity before unceremoniously closing just five months later when its owner went into administration – but now it’s back and better than ever after being taken into the safer-than-safe hands of Bespoke Hotels, which eschews corporate logos in favour of individuality.
‘There have been troubled times in the past, but they are now long gone,’ said general manager Stuart Ward. ‘We now have a management team with 94 years of experience in the industry between us, so it’s safe to say we know what we’re doing.
‘It’s our aim to provide a luxurious yet relaxed experience for people, whether they’re just popping in for a cocktail after work or staying with us for dinner with friends.’
Chef Andy Brookes only joined the team in November, so our lunch was something of a baptism of fire for him, albeit a small, cosy fire rather than a blazing inferno.
‘His style is very much modern English with a twist,’ said Stuart. ‘The food he produces crosses the line between brasserie fare and fine dining. The menu today is a perfect showcase for his skills and shows our dedication to sourcing quality Yorkshire produce.’
After giving our tastebuds an enticing tickle with a range of clever canapés, Andy and his team gave us a starter of sea-fresh scallops and rich, almost gamey duck topped with ingenious, snap-happy stripes of crispy duck skin.
Delicate, ruby rectangles of venison came next in a surprisingly light main that also included a cloud of mash encased in a crisp, buttery spiral and a flavoursome bed of braised cabbage.
And to finish, we enjoyed a pretty plate of meltingly soft roast figs, miniature bites of deep-fried brioche and a honeycomb parfait that artfully combined smooth creaminess with sugary crunchiness.
The picture perfect dishes were served in the hotel’s 60-cover basement restaurant, which has been astutely designed to provide intimate corners without resorting to murky mood lighting. Instead, diners are treated to well-crafted plates in a well-crafted welcoming atmosphere.
There is nothing overly complicated or convoluted about The New Ellington and its approach to welcoming guests, both old and new, is refreshingly straightforward.
‘Our message is very simple – we’re here, so why not come and see us,’ said Stuart. ‘I think people often assume we’re a special occasion destination, but that’s just one of our areas of expertise. We’re also a friendly, relaxed place to pop in for a drink or for a quality meal at a reasonable price.
‘You really don’t have to mortgage your house to come and eat with us. Although you might want to sell up and move in once you have.’
Beetroot macaroons, game sausage rolls and tuna burgers
Pan-fried scallops, confit duck, parsnip and vanilla puree, crispy duck skin
Local loin of venison, potato cannelloni, braised cabbage, salt-crust kohlrabi
Honey roast figs, brioche donuts, honeycomb parfait
Leventhorpe Vineyards Madelaine Angevine: from the only vineyard with a Leeds postcode, this is a fresh, elegant wine with high acidity, fruity apricots and spicy aromatics.
Bonfils Vin de Pays d’Oc GPS Peilhan: a tasty blend of chiraz, Grenache and cabernet sauvignon, this is a warm, textured wine full of dark fruit and earthy minerality.
Fernando de Castilla Antique Pedro Ximenez Sherry: made from the sweetest of sweet grapes, intensified by being left in the sun to dry, this is a rich, viscous sherry full of nutty, fruity flavours.
The wines were provided by Latitude of Leeds. For more details, call 0113 245 3393 or visit latitudewine.co.uk
The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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