I think Shears Yard is pretty much my dream restaurant. It is achingly cool but not painfully expensive. It is minimally but beautifully decorated (I kind of want my house to look like this...) and the food is experimental and delicious. Despite its reputation and the glowing reviews that I have heard, however, I have been waiting to go for the longest time. Paul is a fussy eater so more 'foodie' destinations are out for date nights and it's been hard to pin down friends for a visit here. So, when I heard that they were putting on an event with Portobello Road Gin - four courses and four cocktails for £40 - I immediately snapped up some tickets.
I'm actually relatively new to the world of gin but a G&T has fast become my drink of choice at the bar - Hendricks, if possible - so I was excited to find out more about this well-loved spirit from Portobello Road's brand director Tom. From his little introduction at the start of the night, it is clear that this is a company that is passionate about what they do - as well as the gin itself, the cocktails throughout the night were so well-researched and considered alongside the food. I think part of gin's appeal - at least for me - is its fascinating history, its association with London and a peculiar Britishness that just comes with a G&T, and the cocktails that we were drinking had a similar heritage so that was wonderful.
We started with their signature drink of gin & tonic with a grapefruit garnish, and as Tom described the different flavours - juniper, citrus, nutmeg and others - I was amazed that I was able to pick out the different elements to the drink. I was actually rather proud of my palate - and it definitely showed me the benefit of drinking something slightly more expensive, and therefore considered and cared for, so that there are those layers and flavours which make a more complex drink. Something which was compounded as we drank our second cocktail of the night - the Asparagus Vesper - where you could really taste the asparagus and the liquorice which were used to make the drink (it was far more delicious than it sounds!).
As the night progressed we got a chance to try a myriad of different drinks, each paired with a delicious course cooked up by Shears Yard. After all the wonderful things I had heard about the food there, I was not disappointed in the slightest. In fact, quite the opposite. I enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary when dining out, something which I can't or wouldn't think to cook myself so when we were presented with the first course of rabbit and lobster with an orange reduction, I was completely over the moon. I had never had rabbit before, nor the venison that came a few courses later but surely the best way to try something new is when it is cooked to perfection by an expert? I enjoyed them both immensely and I couldn't tell you which was my favourite dish from the night because they were all as good as each other.
I won't bore you with all the specific details of every dish or we'd be here all day but suffice to say that I was more than impressed by everything that befell me that evening - the food, the drink, the atmosphere (and the company of course!). I feel incredibly lucky to be living in Leeds right now - to have passionate people creating wonderful things with food and drink (and at such a reasonable price - I thought £40 was a bargain!) right on my doorstep. Shears Yard is such an asset to Leeds and I know for sure that I will be back (perhaps for their next event with Portobello Road Gin...).