Strolling across the Headrow, leaving Leeds’ shopping centre to melt into the background, the city’s Northern Quarter is the place to be at the minute. Especially if you’re looking for a local beer/craft ale and some good, honest food; something the lads at The Brunswick know a little about.
Opening last September on North Street, The Brunswick is a three storey venue encompassing a bar, a kitchen/dining room and lofty event space. It’s a subtle homage to the previous haunts of Matty, Nick, Sam and Samuel and they’ve renovated the forma bridal shop brilliantly.
The matte black framed windows of the ground floor provide a sharp contrast with the plain, bright interior. A solitary wall of gorgeous, deep red brickwork is left exposed behind the bar highlighting the bright wood seeping from the bar, down onto the floor and across the tables. Circular lights hover above the seating; a nod to the heavenly ales flowing from the pumps? A reflection on their angelic patrons? Or maybe to the Angel of the North herself, who knows?!
The Brunswick is a showcase for local beer and local food; almost all the beers in the fridges and on tap are Yorkshire based, with a few handpicked brews from across the Pennines. Matty has set out to use as much seasonal produce as possible. The result is a menu that caters for casual bites to accompany your beer, but also stands alone as a brilliant little menu making The Brunswick just as much a dining destination as well as a bloody good pub.
The menu keeps thing typically simple with a choice of beef, chicken or nut roast. Alleviating the tiresome process of weighing up too many options, something my fellow diner Calum was grateful for after a significant night in Wakefield, taking roughly two seconds to decide on topside of beef. This left me to try the chicken supreme, a dish I always feels sets chefs up for a fall. Whatever your choice every roast is served with traditional vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (obviously), gravy and a double shot of bloody Mary — something the staff assured would leave Calum feeling ten times better…or a hundred times worse. It left him the latter. But that’s his own fault.
So as not to prolong my fellow diner’s suffering, I reluctantly shunned the sharing starter of baked Camembert, necking our spicy amuse bouches before diving straight into our towering roasts. Both sat in a pool of gravy; mine emphasised the chicken while elevating each mouthful with a sprinkling of thyme, the beef was treated to one of the tastiest gravies I’ve had the pleasure of sipping with a wonderful whack of fresh rosemary. Our only gripe would be that with such thin gravy, an additional saucer should definitely be provided. (Yes I’m aware I spent nearly a whole paragraph on gravy, I’m Northern, I ain’t apologising!)
The accompanying vegetables were commendable, not only as I actually finished all the green beans which any of school masters or family members would testify is a bloody miracle. Both dishes had carrots stretching the diameter of the plate; something I was particularly happy about as they were cooked to perfection and doused in butter and seasoning. The roast potatoes had nicely golden and crisp outers, with fluffy innards that duly soaked up any excess moisture from the meat and the aforementioned gravy.
Both meats were very good, as I mentioned earlier the name of the chicken sets the bar high — it wasn’t supreme but it was wonderfully succulent and covered in a a thin, crisp skin that I inhaled before Calum could have even asked for a morsel. His beef was cooked medium rare, which is probably the perfect amount for a roast, and withstood only the lightest of touches before melting in the mouth. So far, we were both very happy but, and this was a fairly big but, for us Yorkshiremen the crowning glory of any roast should be the puddings…this was the only real criticism of the whole meal.
While they were of decent size and had a great shades of gold to them, they were oily. Really quite oily, which led to soggy bottoms; something nobody likes. However, on the whole I can almost forgive the puddings as the rest of the dish was excellent and nothing was left on our plates by the end it.
After a brief respite we shared the homemade brownie and ice cream, not that we needed anything else, but Calum had perked up a little so we threw caution to the wind. Alarm bells began to ring as soon as the plate was set on the table. Slabs of unspectacular looking brownies sat glumly along side oversized scoops of Northern Bloc ice cream. As soon as I drove my spoon into the brownie I knew this wasn’t what I, or many, would consider a brownie. Not in the least bit moist, it was more of a cake, one crying out for flavour and something to rescue your ensuing dry mouth. I’d tried Northern Bloc ice cream before and had mixed experiences; scoops of chocolate and sea salt (again a worrying choice to accompany a chocolate brownie) and bourbon with vanilla sounded great — they weren’t. The first had only a minute amount of salt, the second had even less bourbon. We searched for the flavours, we really did, but we were left wanting. I reminded myself that dessert was not what I had come for.
We stumbled out of The Brunswick with the prolonged exhalations that accompany the fullness only a roast can provide. I had been right to walk a little further out of the city centre than I usually would in pursues of food, this roast was worth every step. I mean, how far wrong could four Yorkshireman go? They almost didn’t put a foot wrong and I’ll definitely be back.
82 North Street, Mabgate, Leeds, LS2 7PN
Venue shots by Tom Joy
Food shots by Todd Riddiough Robinson
Words by HQ