Cath Kane and Thomas Chalk went along to Fleur, the newly established cafe at The Light, and found themselves enjoying Sunday lunch in exceptional surroundings.
Fleur’s distinctive and abundant floral decor is easy to spot as customers approach the venue, creating a memorable impression. Thankfully, though, for those hay fever sufferers amongst you, the hundreds of flowers on display at the cafe are not real.
Leeds Living had been invited along to Fleur, so Thomas and I chose Sunday lunch to visit the Cafe, which has only been open for a matter of weeks.
Fleur’s website states that their philosophy is around providing a stunning range of food and beverages, delivered with an impeccable level of service to give guests an experience to truly remember. They are open for breakfast, dessert and coffee, a quick brunch, a decadent afternoon tea or an evening meal. We managed a quick chat with Simo, the Manager and a former chef with 15 years’ experience, who has personally designed the menu. His passion, and that of Chef George Shirley, for serving and presenting quality and flavour was very evident.
Trying our best not to stereotype, we could instantly see how the venue and its brightly coloured floral decor will be highly inviting for particular customers and occasions, such as hen parties and ladies who lunch. Thomas and I don’t obviously fall into these categories, and we’re pleased to report that the food was delicious, presented with confidence in vibrant colours.
On arrival at our table, I went for a homemade Raspberry & Lemon Soda (£1.50) which was very refreshing, whilst Thomas opted for a bottle of Meantime Chocolate Porter (£4.50) that he really enjoyed.
Conscious of our expanding waistlines, the only downside of being food reviewers, we decided to share a starter and dessert. It was just as well, considering the generous portion sizes.
For starters, we shared the Risotto (£7.95) served to us in separate bowls as they knew we were sharing (nice touch). The rice had the right balance of creaminess and bite. Truffle oil complemented the subtler, earthy notes of mushroom and the decorative rounds of sweet potato brought colour and texture, but perhaps rounds of Jerusalem artichoke would have been better, making up for a slight lack of this ingredient in the risotto.
Thomas chose the Butternut Squash Farci (£13.95) for his mains and this is what he had to say on the dish:
The bulbous end of the squash, roasted until just soft but, like the risotto, still with enough bite to give a pleasing resistance. Yellow curried courgette filling in the squash’s cavity was very delicately spiced and, for me, missed some pungency and heat. Whole cherry tomatoes in with the courgette brought welcome pops of acidity, though a squeeze of lemon in the curry would have spread this more evenly through what was rather a sweet plate. Lotus root crisps looked spectacular and had a nice crunch, created an effective textural contrast. White and wild rice usefully soaked up the curry sauce. Whatever my preferences for the strength of curry, the squash was a delight, an assured hand with the cooking making it a standout.
The Moroccan Chicken Brochette was my choice of mains (£14.95). The Chicken was speared onto kebab sticks and served on top of giant Cous Cous, Red Onion Slaw and Lemon Tahini Yoghurt. Warming Smoked Paprika spice was the stand out flavour, and was balanced beautifully with the sweet slaw and zingy, light yoghurt.
For dessert, we opted for the impressively presented Raspberry & Honeycomb Cheesecake (£7.95). Dried raspberries may not be pretty, but they pack a real punch in the flavour stakes, and the raspberry sauce, flowers and gold leaf that adorned the cake made up for their appearance. The decorative rosemary sprig neither added to nor referenced a flavour in the edible part of the dessert, but overall the cake was decent and the raspberry strong and sharp.
Prices at Fleur are reasonable. Starters/small plates will set you back no more than £10, with larger plates under £17. For those of you with children, their Petite Fleur menu is served all day with everything under £5. They even have a Petite Fleur Afternoon Tea for just £8.95.
The ladies in the corner were enjoying an afternoon tea (at £16.95 per person or £27.95 with Champagne), which looked delicious. We debated whether to intrude on their personal space for a photo opportunity, but our better judgment decided against it.
There is a plentiful wine list available to choose from, plus a wide range of interesting cocktails (all under £10) and mocktails. Orange Blossom and Darjeeling Royale were two that caught my eye.
Although Fleur’s decor wasn’t to either of our tastes, it was the flavoursome food and friendly service that did it for us, and which would encourage us to go back.
Fleur Cafe is located on the ground floor of The Light on the Headrow in Leeds City Centre. Find out more on their website: http://fleurcafe.co.uk
…..or you can call on 0113 245 6752.
All photographs by Cath Kane.