Stan heads to family-run Veeno on Duncan Street for lunch this week, where he samples a deli board and washes it down with wine from their very own vineyard…..
Now here’s a concept. A wine bar which serves small plates of food. OK, put so crudely there may not be much to separate Veeno from several other establishments in the City. What does differentiate this place from the rest is that the wine comes from a single vineyard in Sicily, Caruso and Minini, which is owned and run by the family who are the proprietors of Veeno. I suppose that this makes it the wine equivalent of a factory outlet store, but it is much more sophisticated than that.
Unsurprisingly, the emphasis is on the wine but there is a complimentary range of appetisers, or sputini, as they are properly known. They comprise Italian meats, cheeses, bruschette, along with salads, focacce (panini) and piadine (thin flat breads). Each dish on the menu has a suggested wine to accompany it. If you are going for lunch they suggest that you have a couple of sputini. I can go along with that but I just had the one glass of wine. I ordered a large standard house red. This was a pretty dumb thing to do as, because they own the vineyard, they are all house reds! On the menu they are categorised in levels of quality so I had the cheapest one, figuring that if this was all right then the rest would be as well. The wine turned out to be a Nero D’Avola and Merlot blend which was more than all right, it was excellent and good value at £4.60 for 250ml. For lunch I thought that I would sample the Salumi house platter, a board bearing a selection of four types of sausage and ham at £8.95.
The meats were very good and were different enough not to become monotonous. My only criticism is that there were also two slices of bread which seemed to have been cut some time earlier. When I had finished the meats I decided to take the advice on the website and have a second dish. This was Bruschetta Nduja at £3.70. The menu described this as ‘spicy, spreadable pork sausage from Calabria’. I am so glad that I chose this as it was a revelation. The sausage was indeed spicy but although it had a kick this did not overpower the taste of the meat.
Veeno is a welcome addition to Leeds and well worth a visit. The staff were extremely pleasant and knowledgeable, as they should be given the provenance of the food and drink they sell, but they also had a passion for their products. I would suggest that if you are planning a visit you have a quick look at their website first to get some idea of the concept. There are many tasting options for both food and wine and although it may help to be familiar with these first, should you walk in ‘cold’ you will be expertly taken through the menu by the staff.
Photograph by Stan Graham