Restaurant reviews

Christmas at The Tetley: A festive feast fit for a foodie

How many times have you been to a work Christmas do and have had to sit through an awful meal before moving on to the parts of the evening most people seem to care about (namely getting drunk and pulling off some dodgy moves on the dancefloor)?!

Too often, food at work Christmas parties features dry turkey, undercooked, soggy roast potatoes, mushy, overcooked brussel sprouts, and watery gravy.

This week, though, we sampled a Christmas menu for those for whom the food remains a highlight of a festive party.

We’d been invited down to the Tetley in town to review their Christmas menu. We weren’t too sure what to expect, never having been before to this art/foodie venue.

As soon as we walked in, we were impressed. The atmosphere is cool, relaxed, and inviting. With a bar area that pays homage to the history of the Tetley brewery, which stood so proudly on this site before its transformation, and a sleek dining area, this is the perfect place to hold a celebration.

And so on to the food. At £29.95 per person, this is one of the better value three course meals in Leeds and one of the cheaper festive set menus I’ve seen.

We had pre-ordered our menu, so when we arrived Charlotte and I were able to relax as we enjoyed a nice glass of fizzy water, pulled our crackers, and made ourselves look festive with our Christmas hats. To make it even better, our little one was on her best behaviour, taking in the decorations and enjoying the new surroundings!

I had chosen wild mushroom on toast with grilled Yorkshire blue cheese and truffle oil for my starter, with Charlotte opting for Tetley’s prawn cocktail.

When the dishes arrived, they both looked impressive in different ways. Charlotte’s prawn cocktail had a modern twist to it (in fact, it was served in a pint glass!) and there was no marie rose sauce in sight! Topped with impressively sized prawns (which were perfectly seasoned, something which isn’t always the case with seafood starters), rounded off with crispy prawn crackers, the flavours were drawn out by the tomato from the Bloody Mary. The dish was a success, with Charlotte ranking it as one of the best prawn cocktails she has ever eaten.

My dish was equally as impressive. The wild mushrooms were cooked well (no rubbery mushrooms here!) and were complemented fabulously by the blue cheese. The truffle oil simply added further depth to the dish.

Impressed by the starters, we didn’t have to wait long for our main dishes. The waiting team were attentive and really helpful. They understood our time constraints (we didn’t want to push our luck with regards to the good mood of our baby!) and this made a refreshing change from some restaurants, where the staff pretty much have to be begged to come over and speak to you!

For our mains, I had gone traditional, deciding to see whether or not the Tetley could provide a decent roast turkey (I had previously heard good things about their roast dinners) and Charlotte chose the beef cheek dish.

Focusing on my turkey dish first, not only was the turkey moist, but the whole presentation respected the idea of a classic roast dinner whilst bringing it into the modern world. The dish tasted fresh (no frozen sprouts on offer here) and the Yorkshire pudding was cooked to perfection. This turkey dinner ticked all the boxes and it was a delight to eat; everything from the stuffing to the gravy had been thoughtfully cooked.

Whilst I tucked into my dish, Charlotte was nearly silent as she devoured her beef cheek! When I managed to drag her away from the dish after the plate had been cleared (if we had been at home, I am sure the plate would have been licked!), she explained that the beef was cooked to perfection (falling off the fork it was so tender), the creamy horseradish mash providing an interesting kick, and the rich, sticky gravy topping it all off.

Simply put, this was a winner of a dish. Charlotte labeled it one of the top three beef dishes she’s eaten all year, and she was keen to ask the waiter whether or not it’s on the usual menu (it’s not, and she told them in no uncertain terms that it should be!)

Mains done, the next stage was pud. We had both found dishes we were happy to order, but we both agreed that the menu could have been slightly improved by the addition of a solid chocolate dish. That said, the fresh (and festive) options certainly offered enough to keep everyone happy.

I had ordered the salt baked pineapple (something I had never tried before) and Charlotte ordered the Yorkshire cheese selection.

When my dish arrived, it certainly looked impressive. I was advised that the ice cream which came with the dish (ginger with a touch of chilli) was going to be divisive! For me, salt baked pineapple is a proper foodie’s dessert and therefore I really enjoyed the challenge of the ice cream and liked the kick of the chilli. It seemed to draw out the acidity of the pineapple and it all tasted beautiful. I was a convert and would certainly order this again. I’d also applaud the kitchen for being brave enough to put out a dish that is not just a simple crowd-pleaser.

On her cheese board, Charlotte was presented with Fountains Gold, Wensleydale (I am going to assume this was from the Hawes Creamery) and a nice bit of blue Stilton. Served with a range of crackers, some very savoury and some almost sweet, and a deep brown chutney, this was a decent cheese selection fit for rounding off such a fine meal.

This was a night of food that was not only festive in theme but, aside from Christmas, genuinely fantastic. If you are looking for a festive meal in a lovely location, the Tetley makes for a brilliant choice.

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