Ambiente Leeds

Star Travel Rating

5/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

November, 2018

Product name

Ambiente Leeds

Product country

Leeds

Product city

Leeds

Travelled with

Reasons for trip

Remember that last holiday in Spain?

Perhaps you don’t, but if you favoured the true Spanish food whilst there rather than fish and chips and burgers you will surely have been into one of the many traditional ‘tabanco’ bars.

Here, you will have encountered the ‘small-plate’ tapas that now feature virtually all over the world.

Meant for lazily grazing at length over a few drinks, many have tried to reproduce the unique atmosphere that these places create. Most fail.

Ambiente, literally meaning atmosphere, is an independent company which now have four restaurants in the north of England.

They have two in York, one in Hull and one here in Leeds.

My wife and I, having heard so much about it locally, casually sauntered in early one Thursday evening in October, expecting to be able to take a table for two easily. WRONG!

Not having booked, we were informed that it would be at least two hours before they could consider squeezing us in. The place was packed and the atmosphere buzzing.

Having learned our lesson, we made a booking on the next occasion, when we sampled what we hoped would be a less busy lunchtime.

The restaurant is situated in the very trendy Calls area of Leeds city centre, competing with many other outlets.

In the past decade, Leeds has seen a massive explosion in the number and quality of dining out choices, many of them independent.

There is such a large and varied choice that each restaurant has to have a quirk, a unique selling point or, indeed, a unique ambience.

On approaching the large, brick built, former riverside warehouse building we entered via the steps to the reception desk.
We were quickly shown to a discreet table which overlooked the river.

The interior décor is very modern, with exposed brickwork, girders and ducts. It looked the part of a former warehouse with worn dark wood floors, blonde wood tables and comfortable wicker chairs.

Greenery here and there softened the industrial feel to make it more homely.
Lighting was low key and the sound-track unobtrusive and relaxing.

There is a bar and a small balcony for drinking, which sits over the River Aire.
Ninety four diners can be accommodated here and judging by the continued popularity of the place all seemed very satisfied.

The tag-line for the business is “Gourmet Mediterranean Tapas with a Yorkshire Twist” and so has a lot to live up to.

One of the features here is a Josper – a charcoal fired grill and oven combination which has been described as an indoor BBQ. Such ovens feature in upmarket restaurants and hotels throughout the UK. The aromas drifting around the tables made me salivate at the prospect of lunch.

We started with warm bread and a dip of olive oil with balsamic, plenty for two at only £1.95.

We chose from the special lunch menu which consisted of three-plate choices each from a quite extensive menu for an amazing £10.95 each.

I chose patatas bravas, herbed triple cooked potatoes in a chorizo and tomato sauce, roast beef with sliced aioli, and a third plate of beef and pork meatballs in a chorizo and tomato sauce. I cannot praise these three dishes highly enough.

The beef, just pink and so tender, the meatball sauce so fiery. Just perfect.

My partner went for pulled roast lamb with harissa dressing, Mediterranean vegetable rice and a plate of delicious mushrooms.

To finish, we had mini desserts and coffees at £3.95 each. Superb orange cheesecake with a fresh orange slice and a wonderfully creamy Crème Catalan brulee with an almond biscuit.

For the quality of food, this is excellent value and a place we will be returning to very soon. Looking around the tables, on my next visit I will go for the Yorkshire sausage meat and Spanish black pudding ‘Scotch Eggs’ which come bread-crumbed and wrapped around a quail’s egg. They looked divine.

There is an optional £1 per table addition to the bill for the chosen monthly local charity and at the end of the month, the restaurant adds £500 to the total.

A brilliant and generous scheme.

All of the staff were a pleasure to meet, proficient and chatty.

Ambiente certainly live up to their name, it is well chosen.

The nearest car parks are Trinity at LS1 4AG or my preference, Brewery Wharf at LS10 1HN.

For menus and further details go to www.ambiente-tapas.co.uk

Paul Brown

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