First Taste: Matt Healy x The Foundry

Opening its doors as the sun takes Leeds into its arms this May, the new venture from Yorkshire-born Matt Healy combines quality produce with no-nonsense simplicity in a newly stylish setting.

I head down to The Foundry two days before the official opening, lamenting the fact that it’s not quite warm enough to enjoy the al fresco space offered by the restaurant’s Saw Mill setting. Stepping inside on a night like tonight, however, is just as much of a treat.

Months of hard work have seen The Foundry’s interior transformed into an eclectic yet modern ambience of exposed brick, filament bulbs and quirky blue neon. We sip prosecco and admire the solidity of the bar, the concentration on the brows of the chefs in the open kitchen, and a glimpse of the man himself as he chats to the bar staff. It’s chilled yet sophisticated – charming, yet unpretentious.

The first plate of the evening lands soon after we take our seats, and we enjoy bruschette topped with hand-cut beef tartare. It’s a small taste of what’s to come, an intense burst of flavour to whet the appetite for the seasonal British ingredients about to head our way.

Next up is a taster of chilled gazpacho topped with Whitby crab – although a small serving, it certainly packs a punch flavour-wise, with a heady kick of paprika bringing out the sweet tomatoey tang. The buzz in the restaurant is warm and inviting, happy chatter bouncing from window to wall as guests enjoy attentive service and relax in the intimate evening space.

The main event comes in the form of baby chicken Kiev with wild garlic and duck fat potato. Chicken seems an odd choice to show off the true culinary prowess of the 2016 Masterchef professional runner-up, and I’m left a little disappointed by a dry yet perfectly formed bite of chicken, accompanied by other poultry morsels of the same description. The wild garlic sauce, though, is delicious, and the potato fondant a solid ten out of ten.

Chicken Kiev with chicken leg, chicken bon bon and fondant potato.

The real star of the show tonight is dessert, which arrives just as I start to wish I’d eaten more of the chicken Kiev, and soon makes me glad I didn’t. A hearty chunk of rich yet delicate sticky toffee pudding lies drenched in buttery caramel sauce, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream perched on top to balance the sweetness. Minutes pass, and the restaurant fills with the sound of metal on ceramic, as diners scrape bowls for the last taste of classic British pud.

With a location in one of Leeds’ most exciting spots and a menu with a solid foundation of seasonality and simplicity, Matt Healy has taken on The Foundry with exactly the straightforward skill it needs. Head down this summer to enjoy (as Matt himself puts it) “simple food with big flavours,” and revel in the culinary talent of a Leeds’ home-grown hero.

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