Col­lege cour­ses

MAK­ING THE GRADE : Jill Tur­ton vis­its a restau­rant in the heart of Leeds which puts its staff of ap­pren­tice chefs to the test.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Food& Drink -

ELL, no­body’s per­fect,” said Os­good Field­ing III in the fa­mous last line of Some Like it Hot, and nor is the Food Academy. Why would it be? It’s run by newly qual­i­fied ap­pren­tices from Leeds City Col­lege and if it’s not yet the fin­ished ar­ti­cle, then it’s not do­ing at all bad.

Sur­pris­ingly there’s noth­ing on the menu or the sig­nage to ex­plain that it’s run by the col­lege and that th­ese are stu­dents work­ing to­wards their NVQ level 3. Per­haps they want it that way – to be treated as a proper grown-up restau­rant – but any­one not in the know might not have given the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

But if there are creases to iron out in the kitchen, there is no ar­gu­ing with the lo­ca­tion – the gor­geous beamed and white at­tic space above Flan­nels, the posh clothes store on Vicar Lane. It used to be An­thony at Flan­nels and looks much as it did then: wooden floor­boards, tall win­dows, a bar run­ning the length and a chang­ing ex­hi­bi­tion of con­tem­po­rary art on its white walls. What stu­dent wouldn’t be pleased to be given his first job here? And if the starched white table­cloths have given way to wooden ta­bles, there are still the cool leather din­ing chairs and white linen nap­kins. It was al­ways a sooth­ing re­treat from city cen­tre shop­ping – it still is.

As in An­thony’s day, the Food Academy serves break­fast, brunch and lunch but not evening meals. The menu starts the day with por­ridge or eggs bene­dict and the like, goes on to fish and chips, burg­ers, sand­wiches, “graz­ing plates” and af­ter­noon tea. There is also a more am­bi­tious three course set menu, £15 for two cour­ses, £18 for three, which we went for. De­cent off-the-peg wine list. Bread rolls.

Memo to man­ager Becky Price. Please tell your stu­dents to take the but­ter for the bread rolls out of the fridge ear­lier. It was vir­tu­ally un­spread­able.

The set menu ad­mirably steps out of the com­fort zone and pushes the bar a lit­tle higher than your av­er­age mod­ern Bri­tish menu, a wel­come at­tempt at of­fer­ing some­thing more chal­leng­ing with dishes like “tex­tures of aged lamb”, or ch­est­nut ap­ple, crispy kale and wa­ter­cress salad. “Tex­tures of aged lamb” sounded in­ter­est­ing and am­bi­tious. Too am­bi­tious as it turned out. It was off.

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