Georges Great British Kitchen Leeds branch – on the Headrow – opened earlier this year. A small chain that started life in Nottingham, the business has grown quite quickly and sees it’s newest place open in Liverpool this month.
Beach hut booths line the edge of the restaurant, complete with selfie sticks for you to use – apparently candy floss is totally doing it for the ‘gram – and props, like hats and fish (think ‘dodgy wedding photo booth’ and you’re on the way there) are waiting for you to pose with them. Seaside charm in the centre of Leeds – it makes for a good snap. Oh, and the cocktails. Yes, there are lots of those to choose from.
I tried a Candy Annie – vodka, gin, rhubarb and custard syrup, lemon juice and passion fruit – that sounds incredible doesn’t it? When it arrived, topped with a ball of candyfloss, it was a bit of a head-turner. I’d never had a drink this sweet before (and that is before I attempt to eat any of the fluffy stuff). Decidedly not for me, the icky sickly flavour just made me feel queasy, and I hastily ordered a replacement in the form of a Bramble – much, much better!
The menu for Georges Great British Kitchen Leeds, is printed to look like a newspaper. Cute, huh? It’s pretty sizeable – like the portions! A quick scan confirms that this is not the place to go if you aren’t hungry. The list of comfort food is impressively long. Essentially it reads like my dream feast when I am in the throws of major PMT.
Katsu chicken goujons were mentioned, along with a scotch egg – which we were sold on. I waited, hungry for my delicious, crunchy and mildly spicy goujons; while eyeing the candyfloss in the cocktail, slowly deflating like a sad balloon.
The scotch egg was delicious. Runny centred. Full of herbs and satisfyingly seasoned. We were pretty happy to try the katsu – but this was a let down. Over-cooked chicken meant it was dry as a bone inside, but the sauce was addictively, gently spiced.
Mains swiftly followed. A sea bass served with a cauliflower and mushroom jalfrezi sauce and rice, on the servers recommendation. Unfortunately, the strength of the accompanying curry just masked any flavour of the fish. And while I’m all for a marinated, juicy fish curry – this was just the sauce plonked under and over the grilled fish and didn’t quite work for us.
Redemption could only have been one dish away. The filthiest vegetarian main I have ever tried – and I mean that in the best possible way.
So, are you ready for this? The Mac n’ Cheese Fest Burger: macaroni cheese, covered in a panko crumb and fried. Served with another panko crumbed slab of halloumi. Smothered in melted Red Leicester cheese, and topped off with tomato, pickles and sweet brioche bun. Oh, and don’t forget the sweet potato fries that are presented on their own shovel on the plate.
Sweet dreams are made of cheese, right? This tasted great. I had to pass on the halloumi as it was a bit too much for me, and the macaroni patty was a bit tough – which made it a slog to get through. But, in fairness, when you’re carb loading to this degree, a bit of extra chewing is going to help you digest all that gooey, cheesy goodness. A really interesting spin on the veggie burger. And, I’m convinced, must be an instant cure for a raging hangover.
If you’re assuming we were full by this point, you’d be very much correct. But, in the name of being a pair of greedy ones, we decided we had to try dessert. Ice cream seemed like a lighter option, and banoffee was available, so we went for that. Light? Nope. Covered in whipped cream, sprinkles and those foam banana penny sweets, it was tooth achingly sweet, and too much for me, but my fellow diner lapped it up!
I tried the steamed sticky ginger pudding. Because I love proper puddings. Even if I can only manage a spoonful – the glorious sight of the top of a sponge, peeking through thick custard is one I will never be able to refuse.
Unless I go back to Georges Great British Kitchen Leeds, that is. It was terrible. The vanilla mousse that was supposed to fill the sponge, was a congealed mess, and really unpleasant to eat. Sadly, again, the food was just far too sickly. So much sugar covering up any actual flavour at all. Don’t think I’m not a fan of sweet stuff – I have a sweet tooth, that’s for sure. I just like to be able to taste something too.
The saving grace was the tiny bit of golden syrup ice cream that was served next to the sponge. That was absolutely gorgeous. Really creamy, light and bought memories of sticky syrup pudding rushing to me. That’s what I’d hoped for from this dessert.
So, a mixed bag on the food. Service was great – I could see the front of house staff working really hard while we were there, and they were always helpful and friendly.
Access was okay. A bit tricky with the front doors, and I needed someone to hold these for me when I went through in the wheelchair. No room at the booths for a wheelchair, as you’d expect, but staff were happy to stow it at the front of the restaurant while we ate.
Would I recommend this place? If you love sweet food. Or you’re a fan of hearty, stodgy, filling dishes, then yes, absolutely. If your idea of perfection is a platter of puds with candyfloss taking centre stage, alongside a cocktail that literally takes its flavours from a sweet shop, then 100%, go there. If you think there isn’t enough cheese in the world to satisfy your fromage desires, then make haste!
It’s not going to be somewhere I head back to. Leeds and it’s surrounding areas have so many great places to eat. I just didn’t feel like for me, this was one of them.