THIS is probably a good place to outline Confidential’s restaurant reviewing policy.
When we review a restaurant – that is, give it a score out of 20 – this is what we do. We turn up, we eat, we pay, we leave. We don’t tell them we’re coming, we don’t tell them before we publish and we certainly don’t allow copy approval.
They are honest, independent and paid for by Confidential, basically.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, because, a) it’s useful, b) it should avoid any claim of bias/malice towards advertisers/non-advertisers and c) because sometimes, we do get invited along for meals at places.
When that happens, we don’t give it a score. That’s how you know. But we’ll still be honest – we’ll say what’s good or bad and we’ll try to be fair.
We’re the guardians of your pennies, you see, and we don’t take telling where you should and shouldn’t be spending them lightly.
So, the food you’re about to read about, at City Café in the Mint Hotel on Granary Wharf, was at their invite.
"The burger was slathered in cheese and needed cutting in half it was that big. A good burger these days is hard to find, as Feargal Sharkey almost once said."
The first thing to say about the City Café is it’s a pleasant space to eat, looking out onto water amid comfy chairs, a tidy bar and an impressive whisky library.
The hotel’s Manchester cousin has a good reputation for food and the Leeds site has been keen to replicate that. The café is a good starting point and hints at a penchant for solid British cooking.
The smoked haddock fishcakes (£5) that arrived as a starter were good, honest, rustic fare. All different sizes, delicate enough and served with some nicely done homemade tartare sauce. The chicken caesar salad (£5.95) also had plenty of character, instead of the usual clumsy iceberg in a bowl options you can get elsewhere.
The caesar dressing had anchovies in with it, a nice touch, although my pregnant dining partner couldn’t eat it, so it was changed for a freshly-made version without the little blighters fuss-free. Nice big chunks of chicken and generous shavings of parmesan made it a salad with plenty of flavour and interest.
Both main courses were weighty, meaty affairs. The 8oz steak frites (£18.95) was excellent, cooked medium rare and served with a buttery béarnaise sauce. I’ve had thin strips of meat attempting to pass as steak frites before; this was a manly slab.
The burger (£10.95), also weighing in at 8oz, was slathered in cheese and needed cutting in half it was that big. A good burger these days is hard to find, as Feargal Sharkey almost once said.
They were so filling that we shared dessert; a rhubarb cheesecake with a raspberry and rhubarb sorbet. Light, seasonal and delicious, and a showed a nice touch of flair among the largely uncomplicated menu.
A pleasing end to a very good lunch. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if the sun is shining and you’ve got a bit of time to laze around looking at the water.
Just don’t fall in. You won’t float with one of those burgers inside you.
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