68-78 Vicar Lane, Top Floor Flannels, LEEDS, LS1 7JH
Not the latest John le Carré adaptation, but a quote from The Wizard of Oz, and a clue that this establishment above Flannels clothes store, brainchild of Michael O'Hare, is as idiosyncratic as they come. The minimalist decorative style is sharply contemporary, and chefs in Cuban-heeled shoes deliver the food to the tables. A 10-course tasting menu is the only way to go (a shorter Menu Rapide is available at lunch), and prepare for an opener served on a serpent-shaped silver spoon - a fabulous 'hand massaged' octopus with caper lemon butter and paprika emulsion. The full armoury of modern cooking techniques comes into play in a menu full of bold ideas within a broadly European spectrum. Galician beef of outstanding quality, 15-years-old, comes in an inspiring course with olive juice and rendered fat, adding a deep and satisfying depth to the finished dish. Sea urchin bolognese is another brilliant idea and a neat visual trick, resembling the Italian classic when a sea urchin sauce is poured on at the table. The excitement continues... black cod with dashi, veal sweetbreads in Chinese XO sauce with hot-and-sour beef consommé, and among sweet courses, a stunning-looking milk chocolate mousse with violet ice cream and warm potato custard (among other things).