Last night saw us visit Leeds’ newest supperclub, the Bootleg Belly. Run by couple Justin and Lisa it is only a mile up the road from the Manor, so we were chomping at the bit to pay a visit. We’ve met Justin and Lisa a few times now, who are great fun and the kind of people we hoped to meet through doing the supperclub.
The torrential snow was still descending as we started our journey and we were worried it would put other guests off from coming. We managed to convince the Manor’s pot washer to give us a lift on his day off. The promise of gourmet delights was also too much for others who ended up abandoning cars all over West Leeds in order to get to the Bootleg Belly for their tea!
We broke the cardinal supperclub sin by turning up ten minutes early due to the snow! Lisa welcomed us graciously though and promptly put a flute of gin, apple juice and ginger ale in our hands, a most welcome aperitif. As the other guests filtered in we shared our snow stories and then got down to business with the food. (Once again greed got the better of us and we forgot to take any pictures of the food, rest assured it all looked stunning!)
The Bootleg Belly’s concept is to bring many but small courses, no doubt to give chef Justin the chance to put his creative hand to work on a range of delicious dishes. To start we had thin slices of seabass cured in beetroot. With its purple-pink fronds it was a beautiful sight to behold. It came with a spicy horseradish cream and chewy caramelised pieces of beetroot and artichoke heart.
Next up was a prawn bisque, which came in wide bowls and was rich and silky. The presentation seemed a bit plain but then Lisa stole the show by walking in proudly, bearing a sizzling platter of humongous prawns for us to dunk in our bisque. The prawns were sweet and tender and this was by far the highlight of the evening – amazing!
Cutlery cleared, we then moved on to our meat. First up was thin slices of smoked venison served with pickled pear and red currant sauce. Now those of you who have read my game post you will know how much I love venison, and this was nice but not my favourite. As it transpired, Justin had not been able to smoke the meat and had bought it in. I really admired his honesty and actually it proved what a quality cook he is because as soon as we had something that he had not made it was really obvious! Anyway I’d quite like to have a go at smoking so maybe we can have a joint experiment sometime?
We then moved on to cubes of crispy pork belly served with a potato and apple mash. The pork was soft and juicy and with a slight crack to the skin. This was followed by unctuous ox cheeks, braised in a rich sauce and served with a parsnip rosti. Both were lovely, comforting dishes, ideal for a snowy day.
The meal was topped off with a crunchy ginger cake and pineapple carpaccio. It smelt heavenly from the kitchen and did not disappoint. The cake had lovely pieces of ginger running throughout it and the tart pineapple cut through the heavy caramel of the cake. I probably could have eaten two more portions!
Our dining partners all had links to Lisa and Justin although most of us had never met before. Everyone was lovely and it was easy to fall into conversation. We left feeling like we had spent the evening at a friends house, which I guess is the beautiful point of supperclub? The bootleggers themselves made the whole supperclub venture seem effortless. Plate after perfect plate was brought to us on time and with a smile. The whole place had an air of serenity, which I’m never quite sure we get with the Manor, but that’s only because we’re in the kitchen all night long! Lisa and Justin are a couple in control and will go far with their Bootleg Belly!
I understand that they’re taking a break this spring to get married so do give them a look in while you can. You will leave feeling full, content and happy!