Two music graduates chronicle the culinary delights of Leeds and London and explore the height of fine dining on a limited budget.

Good food is well punk.

October 03, 2010

Birthday noms: Art's Cafe and Patisserie Valerie

Hello foodies, Maz here. Yes, I am aware it's been a while; I've been away (metaphorically, not actually (apart from, like, one week in Tenerife)) to graduate and sort my life out a bit.

While the life sorting hasn't really happened, I have had a birthday! Happy twenty-twoth to me. To celebrate, G, the lovely bearded soul he is, took me for a day out of culinary pleasures, which I will more than happily document for you here.

Firstly, we went to Art's Cafe. This is a fairly well-kept secret tucked away on Call Lane and, while the interior is a little dark, it adds to the snug feeling and keeps the tables from feeling cramped. In the evening it would be "moodily lit" and gorgeous. In fact, the meticulous care that went into the production of G's coke float and the presentation of our meals made us both feel pretty frickin' special; it was certainly above and beyond the service from an establishment that calls itself a cafe.

We had a "plate" each - mine was the fish plate and G's was the Yorkshire plate. His had a slab of homemade pork pie, the creamiest Wensleydale this side of, well, Wensleydale and a wonderful apple and celeriac coleslaw that put the tang back into the cheese. I'm a sucker for crayfish and lemon, and my ramekin-full felt like it would never end. This was in contrast to the haddock fishcake which I wolfed down in a couple of bites it was that good, which of course induced immediate regret and meant the smoked mackerel pate (which was just as intense) lasted half an hour on the hugest slice of dough bread ever. My God, there is nothing bad to say about this place. Just don't all go, let's keep it a bit secret (although, being well-known wouldn't stop it from being hella tasty...)

At this point it had started raining, so by the time we took shelter in Patisserie Valerie about half of Leeds had had the same idea. It also meant that some of the cakes we maybe would have liked (ahem, TOFFEE ECLAIR) were sold out, but it turned out that was a testament to the quality of the produce. We shared individual portions of strawberry gateau, mixed fruit tart and pecan tart and the intensity of flavours, the freshness of the ingredients and the little presentational details set them far above any other cake in any shop in Leeds. Especially the strawberry gateau was light and fragrant; the strawberries, while chilled, still remained juicy and their flavour stayed on my tongue like rosewater.

Click here to have a nosey at ALL THE CAKES. Mmm.

This was my first experience of a cake shop (apart from the wonderful Sunshine Bakery - thankyou Culture Vulture), but doesn't mean it any less deserves that title of my new Patisserie of Dreams. It was a wonderful birthday day out, and the second of two establishments I would evangelise about quite happily to any unsuspecting passers-by. Art's Cafe and Patisserie Valerie are genuinely two of my favourites out of all the places I've had the pleasure of reviewing so far. More than worth the money, fabulous service and a great eating experience in both establishments, where in both places we really felt like valued customers.

Art's Cafe
42 Call Lane
0113 243 8243

Patisserie Valerie
50A Albion Street
0113 242 4739