Opening in 1994, the Arts Cafe has built up a reputation for high quality cuisine in a relaxed, informal environment. This inviting atmosphere is complimented by an array of art work on the walls and as I take my seat, I opt in for the early bird menu - at 3 courses for £15, this is really a phenomenal offer.
To start, I went for the:
Ham hock and smoked chicken terrine, homemade salad cream, onion ash, and radish and baby turnip salad.
My dining partner went for the:
Chilled pea soup, crispy fried egg yolk, asparagus and scallion salad, and lemon rapeseed oil.
Both dishes were superb in their own right. The ham hock was very tasty and actually quite succulent compared to its expected texture. The added chicken did provide an extra flavour but was not entirely needed. The creams, ash and small pieces of radishes and turnips not only complimented the ham hock, but provided a burst of flavour that really go the taste buds tingling.
The chilled pea soup was a very interesting dish! Essentially a gazpacho, the soup was very flavoursome and the salad aspect provided some nice textures. The crispy fried egg yolk was fantastic- a crispy breadcrumbed casing with a hard egg white and soft yolk which spilt into the soup as you cut through it.
Next up, we went for:
Pea, mint and feta spring rolls, lemon creme fraiche, abby pear and pea shoot salad.
Beer battered haddock, hand cut chips, crushed minted peas and tartar sauce.
The spring rolls was another interesting dish. The feta somewhat overpowered the pea and mint, and as a cheese that isn't exactly very strong, the taste became rather repetitive. The salad was very refreshing however and complimented the spring rolls nicely. The dish was still very good, but I think a different cheese may have worked better.
As someone who would never normally choose fish and chips from a restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. The haddock was very very tasty, with the beer batter nice and crispy and full of flavour itself. The homemade chips were great and the minted peas made a nice change to your normal mushy peas. The tartar sauce was refreshing and complimented the dish well.
Rose water and saffron creme brulee, apple compote and pistachio shortbread.
Overall, the Art's Cafe had me walking out as a full and satisfied customer once again. The food is of a fantastic standard and the price for the early bird menu simply outstanding. For 2 diners to have 3 courses, coffee and a bottle of wine for only £45 (and for the standard of food, atmosphere and service) the Art's Cafe will continue to be my first recommendation for any diner looking for a guaranteed good meal in Leeds.