A sophisticated culinary twist on our regional cuisine
Where do you go to lovingly celebrate the culinary excellence of God’s Own County?
There’s only one place in the city and that’s FireLake in the Radisson Blu Hotel.
The first and the foremost, I often muse that it took FireLake with its roots in Minnesota, to bring pure Yorkshire cuisine to the city nearly five years ago, this place has a menu like no other.
FireLake prides itself on serving modern takes of great Yorkshire heritage food that’s full of local flavours and Yorkshire grit and what’s more produce is only sourced from local suppliers.
Housed in what was once the banking hall of the Leeds Permanent Building Society, in days gone by, there’s still an element of grandeur when you walk through the doors of FireLake. The large oak bar says it all old world sophistication with a modern twist and how I just adore those high cocktail stools. But what I love about FireLake is the way it choreographs its décor and seating areas.
If you want a little privacy there are booths, but these are so strategically placed you don’t feel cut off from the ambience of the restaurant. You can sit at the chef’s rustic table or there are lots of elegant tables strategically placed for comfort and a feeling of exclusivity.
I particularly love its relaxing blue-grey décor especially in the lounge breakout area with the wall picture of Peter O’Toole at the Cannes Film Festival. Peter was born in Leeds and worked as a reporter at the Yorkshire Evening News before seeking fame on the London stage and starring in award winning movies.
A contemporary of Peter once told me that there could be no better place to place a picture of him than in one of the city’s premiere food and drink establishments – he would have loved it.
The FireLake serves some amazing cocktails seven of them with a Yorkshire twist, all devised by their talented mixologists. I had to go for the Yorkshirtini. It consisted of fresh pressed raspberry, Lillet Blanc, Yorkshire Mason Gin, Slingsby London Dry and Rose Water. This was amazing and so refreshing. The rose water blends beautifully with the raspberry to give it a smooth and fresh taste. A couple of these and you would certainly be falling off the bar stools.
Whilst we looked at the menu we decided to nibble on a couple of snacks. The Habanero Pork Scratchings were very crisp and more than flavoursome whilst the Smoked Sausage Bites with a sticky glaze and fried onions were so tasty. The glaze had the consistency of honey so it blended with the flavour of the onions.
For starters I decided on the Fire melting mini croquettes. These were a skilful blend with tasty ham hock and served with a tantalising rhubarb and ginger chutney that complimented the ham. The croquettes were smooth and just melted in your mouth.
My colleague decided on the Smoked eggplant and chickpea fritters. These were a great choice and full of flavour. The onion puree and Jospered peppers with charred chicory were a good accompaniment to the fritters and gave them enhanced flavour as eggplant and chickpea are not the most flavoursome vegetables.
For main I chose the Bourbon smoked pork belly and I was not disappointed. It came with barbequed peaches and hush puppies, which are increasingly finding their way onto restaurant menus. They are small savoury deep fried balls made from a corn meal based batter and compliment fried dishes or meats.
The pork belly was so tender and the glaze gave it an extra dimension but I must give the kitchen full marks for its amazing presentation of this dish. Fruit served with pork is typically Yorkshire as is the cut of meat – pork belly. To compliment the pork I had to have greens and the lemon and garlic spinach was perfect. Spinach on its own can be so bland and tasteless but add lemon and garlic and it’s a tasty vegetable addition.
If you are dining at FireLake someone needs to have a steak from the Josper Grill. This unique charcoal fired grill gives the meat a unique taste and seals in the flavour without drying it out.
My colleague went for the sirloin steak and it came cooked exactly as requested. The meat was succulent and tender and he sang the praises of the method of cooking on the Josper. To accompany his steak he chose the Chimichurri sauce and triple cooked chips which were crispy on the outside and so light and fluffy on the inside.
For dessert I was completely lost for choice. Which would be my heaven on a plate?
There are few restaurants who have Baked Alaska on the menu as it’s the chef’s worst nightmare and so labour intensive. But enter FireLake with the added secret weapon of Yorkshire Parkin and Cinder Toffee Ice-cream.
When it appeared this Yorkshire lass was really gob-smacked this was truly my absolute heaven on a plate and such an large portion there was easily enough to share.
When the time came to say farewell to FireLake I was truly sorry. This restaurant has some of the most well informed, efficient and friendly staff in the city that make you feel truly very important and pampered.
FireLake is certainly the place to go for a truly regional menu, brilliantly curated by Head Chief and Yorkshireman Craig Hillery, that celebrates the tradition of Yorkshire cuisine with a sophisticated twist.
Open Every Day 12.00 noon to 10.30.pm.
FireLake Radisson Blu Hotel, The Light, 13 The Headrow Leeds l. Tel: 0113 2366254