Trinity Centre in Leeds is apparently the biggest Shopping Complex opening anywhere in Europe this year. It think it is named after the old Trinity church which it appears is having an interior make up but desperately needs a full on exterior clean as it looks forlorn outside the huge shiny new structure sharing it’s name. The Trinity centre is a Trinity of shops, bars and restaurants covered by an amazing glass roof that is designed so it overlaps in various places allowing gaps to the outside. The weather has been particularly cold but every time we have been it is like being “inside” a fridge so seeing ladies in heels and skimpy clothing rushing between bars is kind of odd. I have to admit other than to buy a pack of refills from The Pen Shop I haven’t been around the shops but there are some new to Leeds.
What is different is that there isn’t the normal obligatory shopping centre food hall although Giraffe, Carluccios, Waggamama and Yo Sushi represent the chains and the rest are smaller more stylish set ups.
In turn we have tried out Angelica (more later), The Alchemist and it’s sister bar The Botanist both of which serve great cocktails but very different in style. The Botanist is quirky and more shabby chic and although very busy right now the staff appear in better control, whether a pit stop whilst shopping or a pop in for one or two it has a nice friendly atmosphere. There is a heated outside area where you can see into the open kitchen which we liked very much but summer we thinks…
The Alchemist is aimed to be upmarket with a “science of mixology” vibe, serving the drinks in an elaborate mix of laboratory style vessels. All very intriguing and theatrical but the the thing is it is not all substance as the cocktails inside the vessels are on the whole excellent. The terrace has nice urban views and will be full in summer. We haven’t eaten at either the Botanist or Alchemist so can’t comment.
So, onto D&D Group’s Angelica and Crafthouse which I guess are the anchor leisure food/drink destinations at Trinity. I am told this is D&D Group’s first foray outside of London where amongst others they own the very upmarket Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino’s so the expectation is huge. Our first visit to Angelica was on a soft launch 1st Saturday night, as you would expect the joint was buzzing, there were eight of us booked in to eat but they can’t sit eight on one table so we had adjoining tables for dinner but then butted up after. The big idea is the raw fish bar which I was particularly looking forward to so you can imagine my disappointment when the ice behind the glass was covered in empty shells, looked good but EMPTY??
Various dishes from sashimi to steak, to cold lobster left all eight of us underwhelmed, the service was also poor. However the drinks and atmosphere were superb and the views from the snow covered terrace are amongst the very best in Leeds centre, this coupled with the sincerely apologetic staff we decided we should go back but not for dinner. Lunch definitely and drinks without a doubt. After our trip to Casa Mia we decided to go back to Angelica for drinks to make sure we all would have a very “relaxing” Monday. We had a little persuading to do to get in as it was pretty packed but it was worth it, we had a fantastic night. My recommendation is not any of the great cocktails but the Venezuelan rum “Diplomatico” which is amazing.
This brings us nicely on to Crafthouse and our date night dinner. I have to add that we had had a good 10 day break from all the eating out by this time……. I know it has been a full on month so will we will be taking it easy for a while??
The Crafthouse space is all glass with a great mix of furniture from bar stools allowing seating looking into the kitchen to intimate tables enjoying a great view and a dining table for eight or more. Very impressive format.
The Executive chef Lee Bennett has created a nice menu that will challenge all the high end establishments in Leeds and beyond. Originally from Bridlington but travelled far and wide Lee has not lost all his roots with Bridlington, Lobster and “Ginger Pig’s” beef being a key part of his repertoire. They have what is called a Josper, some kind of amazing BBQ type grill which allows cooking at a high temperature adding that lovely sealed crisp effect along with smokiness without losing the ability to keep meat succulent inside.
As we had not had a date night for a while we decided what the hell and went all out. Laurent Perrior Rose, Grilled Lobster, Rib of Beef(accompanied by a very reasonably priced £21 carafe of Chianti)assiete of deserts and cheese over 4 hours. D and I can honestly say the Lobster was The Best and we were treated by the chef to a small amuse bouche version of his signature Lobster Bisque which was incredible in it’s depth of flavour with a heavenly texture
How do you follow that, well Lee was showing off we think because the Rib was not only amazing but without doubt the finest beef we can remember tasting. We were pretty much beaten even though we didn’t finish all the beef so to our shame the desserts weren’t given full attention but we tried a little each of all of them and….next time! We waited for a while before cheese thankfully it was not a massive plate but just right portions of local cheeses which to be honest we played with but were lovely. The prices for the above are high but in our opinion worth it. This place will challenge it’s competitors to reach higher.
Finally we had a very quick Monday night meal at Cielo Blanco a lovely independent Mexican and decided on the Street Food menu which allows you to choose 3 dishes for £10.95, we had slow cooked baby back ribs, pulled pork tacos, prawn tostados, mackerel and salsa verde tacos additionally we had a Mexican Fish Butty which was interesting. Mrs S had Mojito’s and I had a Modelo beer plus a couple of Virgin Mary’s to accompany the meal all were excellent. A nice friendly spot for a quick different experience.
Will the Trinity Centre kill off the rest of Leeds High Street? I don’t think so if the Council gets it right and supports lots of variety with independents, festivals, street entertainment and develop a proper City Centre Strategy. Leeds is continuing to change so far for the better, let’s hope it stays that way.