Reviews: Leeds destination that justifies the money spent

Crafthouse restaurant, Trinity, Leeds. Restaurant review
Crafthouse restaurant, Trinity, Leeds. Restaurant review

Reassuringly, the wealth of adulation the 144-cover restaurant has received doesn’t seem to have gone to its head. Though not exactly cheap, its a dining destination that still more than justifies the money.

Service is friendly and efficient. The wine list is extensive, with more than 30 house offerings from £5 a glass and up to £47 a bottle, while there are several pages of other possibilities from around the globe.

The pre-meal bread, always a portent of the quality of the food to come, is excellent and features a couple of artisan mini-loaves including one whose tangy taste suggests beer has been involved in the cooking process.

Having tried the good value set menu, three courses for £22.50, at an earlier visit, we go a la carte.

The scallops in my risotto starter are perfectly cooked, fleshy and ever-so-slightly chewy but flavoursome. On the other side of the table, smoked salmon from the Staal smokehouse in Beverley, served on a warm potato pancake, is light and fresh-tasting, with good quality, non-greasy fish.

For main course, I opt for meat cooked on the josper’. My 200g rump steak has nice char lines, is tender and with the right amount of pink flesh to enjoy, served without frills alongside chunky chips and with a small pan of peppercorn sauce.

My partner goes for slow-braised lamb rump and shoulder with a smear of aubergine puree, and a surprisingly flavoursome ratatouille with finely-chopped vegetables, and beautifully rich gravy.

Possibilities for desserts include an elderflower and vanilla cheesecake, creme brulee and strawberry trifle with hibiscus jelly. We can’t choose between them, so plump for a dessert selection of five different dishes.

The creme brulee was perfectly done, but a coconut souffle was the real highlight. Tasting beautifully sweet with a hint of dark chocolate, it was light as a feather and melted in the mouth.

Our bill comes to £96, plus obligatory 10 per cent tip, not something you’d do every week but justifiable given the quality of the fare.

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Theatre

billy’ the musical, the halifax playhouse

Fun, funny and down right fantastic. A packed house for opening night of the Halifax Light Opera’s latest offering Billy’ the musical. Based on the novel by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall this quirky story follows the calamitous life of young Yorkshire lad and self proclaimed fantasist Billy Fisher, as he lies and innocently shapes the truth in order to deal with his mundane existence.

Rick Whyte is excellent as Billy flitting effortlessly between voices and gags, songs and dances ensuring the audience are thoroughly entertained. The trio of Catherine Riley, Colin Harris and Marilyn Mitchell do a sterling providing excellent comedic patter and kitchen table scenes are a real highlight. The suggestional set design and staging work well and offer a blank canvas for the story to unfold. Strong supportive direction from old pro Neil Hurst ensures that not a gag or narrative thread is missed or unexplored. This hidden gem of a musical is rarely staged locally and does generally have something for everyone (including the non theatre lover). It’s funny and witty verging on soap opera-esque and successfully celebrates life in a Yorkshire town in post war 1960. It runs until Saturday at the Halifax Playhouse so grab a ticket while you “bye gum” and have a cracking good night out.

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Theatre

Hidden, library theatre, sheffield

Laura Lindsay and Peter Carruthers make their writing debut and take all six acting roles in this comedy piece.

Three years have passed since Hidden’s conception and this is the last performance following the Edinburgh Fringe and a national tour. Six characters have a secret to hide. Inevitably, something repressed will come out eventually.

Lindsay and Carruthers prove themselves to be shy and retiring players. Carruthers as Colin starts the ball rolling by sitting in the audience and chatting to an unsuspecting punter. Within seconds he has jumped on the stage, dropped his trousers and revealed his bare bottom to Sheffield’s intelligentsia.

Although possibly slightly unhinged, Colin does what most of us only dream of. In another hilarious scene, he composes a brilliantly frank email to boss from hell Nina before deleting it and replacing it with a more timid and subservient one.

Northern Colin is matched romantically with Glaswegian Claire who is forthcoming with her sexual needs. Her smooth, sausage-innuendo chat up lines, fail to snare a checkout customer. Meanwhile James is breaking the commuters’ code and his wife, Nina, is summoning spiritual influence from Jesus to Aslan to create a negative pregnancy result. It’s an expertly-acted, poignant and funny first outing from these confident, talented performers.