As a small child I can remember being taken by my mother and great aunt for afternoon tea at Collinson’s Café in King Edward Street.
I can still recall the large oak doors, the marbled entrance with two large wooden painted figures, resplendent in their national dress, holding Collinson’s famous coffee and tea blends in their artistic tins – but most of all I can remember the pungent smell of roasting coffee drifting into the street.
Once inside I was enthralled by the sound of the string quartet playing Novello and Coward music whilst waitresses in pristine uniforms, that hadn’t changed since the family owned café opened in the very early 1900’s, glided across the floor to the clatter of china cups and muffled conversations.
We would sit at a table with upright chairs, a crisp white cloth, adorned with a tasteful vase of flowers and shining cutlery – this was the first place where I learned how to use a cake folk correctly! Tea would come in shining teapots – leaf tea of course – and cakes, sandwiches and scones on tiered cake stands.
I loved the orchestra and my mother, a keen local historian, told me years later that Wallace Hartley, the band master on the Titanic once played with his small orchestra at Colllinson’s Café. Hartley, who came from Dewsbury, showed great bravery in the face of adversity. He played as the ship went down moving his players, who kept on playing, from deck to deck. Hartley perished and when his body was eventually found in the pocket of his suit was a fountain pen inscribed from Collinson’s Staff.
With the brashness of the 60’s and the great cultural changes Collinson’s Café Closed in the early 60’s. It was revamped, its walls boarded on the inside and turned into a couple of boutiques.
But thanks to the vision and ingenuity of two businessmen the place that was ‘the in place to go’ in the last century lives again. After a £1.2million restoration project it is now the Cut and Craft and like Collinson’s it is now the ‘in place to go’
The Cut and Craft is the only building in the Victoria Quarter with any surviving internal features. When the retail units closed found behind the wooden facias walls were the original artifacts and walls and then the journey to lovingly restore the building to its original grandeur began.
My childhood wonder of entering Collinson’s was re-kindled when I passed through the sleek, chic and stylish reception. Walking into the main dining area – this was grandeur personified. The large circular bar, the atrium with its artistic stained glass and the way the seating has been choreographed into bays with such comfortable blue velvet seating.
Where-ever you sit you have total privacy. The stain glass windows above original window-sills and the balcony with its wooden staircase leading to an upstairs area – this is a restoration made with artistic and historic feeling on grand scale producing an ambience like no other.
We had no sooner sat down than a welcome drink came our way and a server who was efficient, friendly and made us feel so at home and really special but most of all knew her product and the answers to all our questions. Whilst we perused the menu we ordered some Marinated Olives which were juicy and tasty.
The menu is varied but being famous for its master butcher supplied steak doesn’t mean its all meat. There’s a great choice of fish – even East Coast Fish and Chips, burgers include a Falafel Burger with Smashed Avocado plus other vegetarian and vegan dishes – a Sliced Lentil and Cauliflower Pie which sounds delicious and a wonderful choice of salads.
My partner chose the Truffle and Garlic Mushrooms for his starter. The mushrooms were an assortment of oyster, chestnut and button mushrooms and he loved the fact that the sauce was not too overpoweringly creamy with just a hint of garlic, which made it great for dipping the accompanying sourdough bread into
It’s not often a food and restaurant reviewer gets ecstatic about a dish but when I first tasted my Grilled Goats Cheese my face said it all. This was amazing! What a combination! The large portion of Goats Cheese was marinated with beetroot, rocket, figs and a walnut dressing and so beautifully presented. The figs and the nuts were a great additive and gave the dish such a five star taste. A large portion I could eat this at least 7 days a week.
For main my partner chose and Ribeye Steak and he was not disappointed. It was tender, succulent and juicy but above all it was cooked to his liking. He chose a peppercorn sauce, which tasted home made and he was adventurous in choosing the Japanese Spiced Fries, large and crispy, buttery and fluffy on the inside these are to be highly recommended.
I wanted something simple for my main course and decided on a Cheese Craft Burger but a burger here is far from simple.
The two patties were smooth and tender. The cheese was real cheddar with a tang, sandwiched between rocket, gherkin and sliced tomatoes. I asked for the sauce on the side as often I am no too fond of the sauces served at various establishments but I need not have worried this was the Cut and Craft special sauce – tangy, smooth and full of flavour.
To walk off some of the calories I decided to venture upstairs and was amazed at what I found. This is a balcony with a tremendous view of downstairs and the perfect place to watch the world go by downstairs. There are tables discreetly placed and its great to have a birds eye of what’s going on downstairs or gaze up at the glass atrium and see the sun or the stars at whatever time of day you are eating.
After descending it was time to order our desserts. My partner chose from the ice cream menu which abounds with homemade flavours.
My dessert was a real heaven on a plate – the Homemade Fruity Pavlova. This homemade baked meringue was unlike any other Pavlova. It was crisp but soft and covered in Chantilly cream, raspberry coulis and mango puree that gave a tang to the usually sweet meringue. The fresh berries added colour to the dish but it was the lemon curd that made it an absolute winner in the Heaven on a Plate stakes! Lemon curd is tart yet sweet and tangy and putting this on as Pavlova was a brilliant idea – compliments to the chef.
All too soon our visit to Cut and Craft was over after spending an evening reviewing what I consider the Jewel in the Crown in every way of the City’s restaurants.
As we walked to our taxi we both smiled and nodded we’ll be back.
The Cut and Craft 23 King Edward Street, Leeds LS1 6AX – Located in Victoria Quarter
Open Sunday 9.00am – 10.00pm (Brunch 9-11.30)
Saturday 9.00am – 11.30pm
Mon,Tues,Wed,Thurs andFriday 11.00am – 10.00pm
Phone 0113 8314829 Website thecutandcraft.co.uk