Having been excited enough about Homage2Fromage to write up a preview of the opening and a review of the opening night, it seemed only right that we popped down to the latest foodie sensation in Leeds to try out the food properly!
When I was invited down to try out the food and drinks on the opening night, one thing was clear: the quality of cheese was outstanding. The real question going back during lunchtime for a main meal of the day was whether the quality of service as well as the range of dishes on offer would live up to what I had experienced previously.
Going in as a group of four (plus our little one), we were quickly advised that we could grab our choice of table and were given a friendly welcome by the staff.
As we perused the menu, a glass of wine was ordered as well as a few coffees. Whilst I was not one of those who partook in the wine, I am reliably informed that the house red (a cabernet sauvignon from Chile) had a nice depth of flavour to it and also went well with the majority of the food we went on to order. Our coffees were a delight and the waiting team was very polite in their approach, especially after a small mishap with coffee being poured over my part of the table! They didn’t even roll their eyes at the fact we seemed to have the most awkward layout as a table for them to deal with, with me standing up jiggling a baby at times and our pram blocking easy access to the table. Fair play to the staff; they were very kind and did well!
Of course the main event was always going to be the food and again we received some tips about what to order (and I was also able to draw on my experience of dish sizes from the opening night). We opted for a charcuterie pizza, charcuterie board (you can’t have too much charcuterie!) as well as a range of small plates of Vickie’s mac n’ cheese, aubergine and courgette parmigiana, tartiflette and some garlic bread with added gruyere. All in all, this was shaping up to be a tapas of cheese focused dishes and that, surely, can never be a bad thing?!
On the opening night, I had been a big fan of the tartiflette and this sentiment was replicated amongst all of our group. The dish is a wonderful garlicky, cheesy and carby comfort food explosion perfect for a cold, wet day. Pizzas and garlic bread are simple dishes in their own way, yet so often this kind of food can be a total letdown when the restaurant is not a specialist in this area. If you aren’t sure about this, just remember the last time you ate a pizza from your local kebab shop! At Homage2Fromage cafe, this was not the case at all.
The pizza had a nice tasty base and the topping was fantastic; the meaty goodness mixed with the fresh and tasty mozzarella. The garlic bread delivered on flavour although I would say you need to pay the pound extra and get the cheese topping; without this, the garlic bread might have been a little less interesting.
Vickie’s mac n’ cheese was divine. We added bacon (who doesn’t want to make mac n’ cheese more unhealthy!) and this gave a lovely and different texture to the dish, as well as smoky overtones.
The charcuterie board was delightful and varied, and this showed clearly that the cafe can do more than just cheese!
Having said that, the cheese is still the main draw. The best small plate we sampled (and this was a hard call to make) was the aubergine and courgette parmigiana. Boasting on their website about the use of 24 month old Parmgiano Reggio, this dish really does offer a rich taste contrast to the rest of the food. The balance was there between the cheese, the rich tomato, and the depth of the aubergine, and the whole dish came together very nicely.
Overall, while only being a six month pop up, this cafe has the legs to be a permanent fixture in the Leeds food scene. The small dishes made this an excellent choice of venue for a filling lunch, and if you like cheese, you can’t go wrong here. Added to that, there was a family feel to the downstairs area (though upstairs has more of a restaurant feel to it if you want a more serious bit of dining) and I can only have one complaint (that may already have rectified!) which is that they didn’t have alcohol free beer.
All in all, this is the kind of restaurant that might help continue the revitalisation of the Merrion Centre.
Categories: Restaurant reviews