In the grounds of the Weetwood Hall Estate lies a hidden gem of culinary excellence.

Opened earlier in the year Convive brings a taste of the Mediterranean to the suburbs of Leeds.

Walk into the grounds and turn the corner and you will be pleasantly surprised at your first view of the restaurant. Its like entering a sort of Mediterranean Narnia, for the entrance to Convive sets the mood for your evening.

Thre’s a beautiful tiered walkway with plants and there’s an abundance of terracotta pots and ornamental figures as you make your way down the steps to the terrace with its outdoor seating area. Just the place for pre-dinner drinks or sipping a liqueur after your meal and watching the sun go down.

For the staff at Convive nothing is too much trouble – your wish is literally their command and so eager to please its efficiency coupled with a special Mediterranean charm.

As it was a warm night we decided to take our aperitif outside and browse through the menu, however been an English summer we opted to have our meal inside. Convive has three different types of dining area that just blend seamlessly into each other. There are booths for private tete a tete dining or those business lunches, a modern stylish area and the glass fronted area which is perfection for those sunny nights or could be equally as wonderful in the snow. There’s even rugs on the back of the chairs for those who want to take the night air in-between courses! Such a wonderful touch I haven’t seen in this country for a  long time.

Our choice of starter was a difficult one. My partner chose the grilled English asparagus, wrapped in serrano ham served with a free range poached egg. The asparagus was cooked just as it should be tender, but not too soft. The ham was crispy but not overcooked so the flavours came through perfectly.

My Sanlucar prawns were cooked in shallots, lemon and garlic. I asked to forgo the chilli on ordering. The prawns were ultra large and succulent. The garlic did not overly interfere with the flavour, which often it can and for a prawn dish it was very tasty but I did miss a finger bowl at the table!

To accompany our meal, I savoured the delights of a perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio. It was a nicely balance one with a gentle floral aroma and  a refreshing finish – the perfect drink with an Italian meal, whilst my partner was overly delighted that Convive has a good selection of beers including Peroni one of his favourites.

My choice for main course was the sea bass gremoltata served with grilled asparagus and a delicious dressing of garlic, parsley and lemon zest. The two sea bass fillets were more than ample and pan fried expertly. The skin was crispy and the fish white succulent and melted in your mouth. Thinking of my waistline and impending holidays I for-went the twice cooked chips and opted for a house salad. My choice could not have been better as my salad was loaded with every little treat you could image between its leaves.

Convive’s homemade lasagne was my partners choice. There was plenty of meat and the dish was far from bland but bursting with a fusion of Mediterranean flavours. One thing in particular that set it apart was the way the cheese was cooked into the top layer avoiding that sometimes custard consistency on top that one often experiences.

To be able to sit outside between courses and sip our drinks and take in the evening air was a wonderful thing and one that puts Convive a step above the rest. So when dessert time came it was inside again.

My partner chose ice cream misto which came beautifully presented with freeze dried raspberries. But my ‘heaven on a plate’ was indeed ultra-heavenly and a combination I had never had. Ginger sticky toffee parfait with bubble-gum marshmallow ice cream. I love ginger and to have it in a parfait served with one of the best unusual ice-creams I have ever tasted was a bonus. I’ve been searching every supermarket and deli shelf since to find it.

Our evening at Convive was over too soon but it will certainly be one to remember. It’s a great place with a great menu and even greater food. But what sets it apart is its ambience and atmosphere that makes you feel special and as if you really are on the midst of the Mediterranean.

Convive, Weetwood Hall Estate, Otley Road, Leeds LS16 5PS. Tel: 0113 230 6095 is every day from 10.30 to 11.30pm

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