Bourbon and Beef at RARE

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I love a good tasting menu. As an indecisive person who really loves food, eating out can pose a problem when selecting just one dish from a menu full of tempting things. What’s worse than that, is when my dining companions pick something more delicious than me and I am stuck with menu envy. Don’t you just hate that? A tasting menu removes all of that anxiety. Rather than having to pick and choose, you are presented with a stream of smaller courses, each more delicious than the last. It’s all very exciting.

Do you know what’s even better than a tasting menu, though? A tasting menu paired with matching cocktails. I was invited down to RARE for the first of their RARE Taste evenings – 4 taster courses which from the same beast paired with 4 drinks made from the same spirit to match, all for £30.

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 We were treated to a feast of Beef & Bourbon – and none of what was presented to us was what I was expecting. It was so, so much better. Each course was surprising, different, inventive and the drinks that accompanied them were incredibly delicious.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first course (it’s something about the texture of foam as food that I just can’t quite get my head around) but it was unusually presented in a little Kilner jar which let out a little cloud of smoke when opened. The ‘Cherry Lips’ bourbon that accompanied it though, was sweet and very moreish.

The second course, however, made up for any misgivings that I had from the first course. Little slices of rare beef, caramelised fennel and orange segments – a fresh flavour pairing that had even my very fussy boyfriend raving about fennel. The third was this gorgeous, perfectly cooked steak, paired with rocket and a creamy onion macaroni and cheese. I’m still dreaming about this dish weeks later. Plus, our bourbon came in a goblet and everyone loves a goblet.

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The fourth course sort of threw me for six, if I’m honest. True to their promises, RARE served up four courses of beef – including pudding. The dessert was sweet-cured beef slices, served with date sponge pudding and bourbon set cream. It tasted very good; the texture, however, was very unusual and I had to get past the fact that it was beef to avoid being a bit squicked out. Beef as dessert? I’m glad I tried it, and it was surprisingly tasty, but I’m not sure that this is one that I’ll be rustling up in my own kitchen!

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In the interest of honesty, you should know that I dined for free. However, if I had paid £30, I would have been just as made up about the meal that was presented to me. You can barely get four cocktails for £30 in Leeds city centre, so to be able to walk away satisfied and slightly tipsy for that price is an absolute steal, in my opinion. I am definitely planning to go back for a tequila night – since it’s my favourite spirit – and I am excited to see what else will come out of the kitchen. Foodies of Leeds, I’d watch this space if I were you.

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  • THIS sounds right up my street. I’m like you, too much choice at a restaurant and I am there ALL night just trying to decide and then I get the food envy!! But a tasting menu ticks every box!!!! Next time I visit Leeds I know exactly where I’ll be going!