Matt Healy, a Leeds lad through and through, received training in the dark arts of chef-ery at several famous restaurants, notably in Manchester and London.
In 2016 he finished as a runner-up in the tv show ‘Masterchef – The Professionals’ and he has never looked back since.
Returning to his home town, he was aware of the tremendous rise in quality and quantity of Leeds restaurants over the last decade or so and his gaze fell upon Holbeck Urban Village, just off Leeds City Centre.
Over the past few years, this jumble of Grade II red-brick industrial era buildings has been transformed into an award winning, modern creative arts, media and technology hub. It has also garnered several good quality pubs, bars, restaurants and up-market apartments.
A couple of fantastic micro-breweries add to the mix.
Matt took on The Foundry restaurant there, bringing his modern British take on cooking to new heights. He has made a terrific start, winning the Yorkshire Life Food and Drink awards ‘Best Newcomer’ title in 2018.
It was the much lauded Sunday lunch (noon to 7pm) that we had our eyes on and approaching the building down a sunlit cobbled yard, we were at peace with the world. It may have helped that we had already spent an hour in the lovely cobbled beer garden of the nearby Midnight Bell pub in gloriously warm sunshine!
This pub is owned by the marvellous Leeds Brewery, who produce some lovely ales. Just yards away is the Cross Keys pub, this time owned by the similarly wonderful Kirkstall Brewery, which also has a cobbled, sunny beer garden and is another superb pre or post lunch haunt.
A short walk takes you to the independent and award winning Northern Monk brewery, also with an outdoor beer garden.
This area is real ale heaven and all beer gardens (or, more properly, beer yards,)
are away from roads.
We took our time, admiring the reclaimed buildings and pedestrianised yards and alleys of this now beautiful area looking for the restaurant, until we finally found it down a yard to the rear of the Cross Keys pub.
We wandered past the six outdoor tables of The Foundry to find a small, intimate interior of only twelve tables. The feel was in keeping with the industrial heritage all around us. Bare concrete floors complimented the reclaimed red-brick walls and the industrial style vents above the bar. Light oak tables had accompanying turquoise or taupe chairs. At one end of the restaurant was the open kitchen. Blissfully, there was no piped music, just the gentle hum of conversation, such a change from the vast and noisy interiors of some restaurants.
We were greeted by the young, friendly staff and soon seated.
Quite sensibly, Matt has restricted the Sunday lunch menu to three starters (£7), two mains (£19.95) and three dessert choices (£7), though the starters and desserts change regularly.
Leaving aside the tomato gazpacho and duck pate, we both opted for classic prawn cocktail, a refreshingly cool base of chopped crispy lettuce surmounted by a salty, fresh tasting pile of prawns in a piquant sauce, all served in a wide cocktail glass. Just the job. Sea and garden in perfect harmony.
A delicious sharing board of 12 hour roasted sirloin and chicken, Yorkshire puddings, carrot batons, green beans, long stem broccoli, cauliflower cheese, chopped spring cabbage and a pot of gravy followed.
The thick and tender slices of sirloin came studded with sea-salt crystals and in a shade of pink that would make Barbie blush.
Perfect for me, but you can ask for it to be cooked longer if you wish. The crispy-skin chicken joints that came with it were tender, moist and plentiful. There was the option of a mushroom wellington for veggies.
Now struggling, my partner declined pudding, but I struggled manfully on with a sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream pile that came with a dark-treacle tasting sauce. Yum!
Artisan cheeses and crème brulee will have to wait for a follow up visit, which there will surely be. Post dinner coffees were very reasonably priced but were a little on the strong side for us, though soon remedied.
The bill came with a 10% service charge added, a source of chafing to me and a personal quirk I suppose, but I would rather reward good service personally, and often more than 10%, but so be it.
There is a thoughtful wine list.
The Foundry is becoming more and more popular as word spreads and so I would recommend booking in advance.
An excellent, lazy way to spend a glorious Sunday afternoon and like the Northern Monk might say, a habit I could get used to.
For details about the restaurant, Matt himself, the menu and much more, go to www.mhfoundry.co.uk. You will find it at LS11 5WH.
Parking nearby is at a premium, though it is but a ten minute walk from Leeds railway station and the city centre.