It may not have been the first place that sprang to mind when thinking of potential Christmas dinner locations, Harvey Nichols (Leeds’ very own, no less) is putting on an impressive festive show this year.
We head there on an unusually mild November evening, trying to distract ourselves from the reasons for this by focusing intently on the glittering signs of Christmas that have rapidly appeared across the City Centre. Pretty lights, seasonal tunes and glowing window displays do the trick well enough, and as the escalator spits us out onto the top floor of Harvey Nicks and into its sprawling restaurant area, I’m fully ready to embrace the season.
The famous department store’s new set menu is full of delights and deliciousness. Let down only by the overly sweet bramble cocktail that accompanies them, all three courses have undeniable star quality. We begin with sweet potato velouté, which comes with crumbled feta and a delicate savoury carrot cake on the side, and chicken ballotine, served with piccalilli, shallots and quinoa.
Sitting back to admire the tastefully festive ambience in between courses is a treat for the eyes – cool colours, gentle smatterings of lights and genuinely friendly service make for an atmosphere that feels ‘just right’.
Our main course arrives in the form of skate wing, nestling beside a refined blob of mashed potato and savoy cabbage. Capers and lime give the dish the acid needed to cut through, with a slight sweetness that brings all the flavours together in a way that’s well-rounded and entirely satisfying. The vegetarian option is a tagliatelle dish served with goats’ cheese and kale, in case you were wondering.
Happy, but not stuffed to the gills from the satisfying balance achieved by the first two courses, we move on to dessert, ordering both the pecan and treacle tart and the chocolate ganache at the bottom of the menu. In my humble opinion, this is where the stars of the show truly shine. The tart is gooey and sweet yet deliciously airy, bearing a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle of maple syrup.
And as for the ganache – I challenge you to finish the whole generous portion, because this one’s a force to be reckoned with. Thick, indulgent and topped with juicy frozen clementine chunks, passion fruit and amaretti crumb, this is a pud for the books.
With the whole Prix Fixe (that’s three courses and a cocktail) available for just £30 a head at lunchtime (Monday to Thursday, 12 – 4.30pm), dinnertime (Friday and Saturday, 12 – 8pm) and on Sundays, 12 – 4pm, Harvey Nicks is well worth a trip this winter. Its tucked-away location gives it a surprisingly hidden gem feeling, with relaxed yet attentive service, brilliant food and a fabulous wine selection combining to create the dining experience we’re all looking for. Don’t miss it, and definitely, definitely get dessert.
Feature photograph – Sweet potato veloute. Photography by Kate Ryrie.