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El Gato Negro

Liz Coggins sampled the delights of this top Leeds restaurant and soon found herself in Tapas heaven.

F ood is Simon Shaw’s passion so its little wonder that after only three months
El Gato Negro has become the hottest restaurant ticket in town and it’s not hard to understand why.

The former iconic bank building in Park Row has been lovingly restored with a quirky, eclectic style of décor with high ceilings, ornate tiled floors, and exposed brick walls that lend themselves perfectly to a tapas restaurant.  It’s a relaxed space with dark wood tables, sinkable leather seating alongside expertly placed pictures and industrial pendant lights masked by trailing plants.

But it doesn’t stop there. Ascend the tiled stairs to the second floor, where natural light floods through the large windows and there’s more seating.

The secret of its success lies in award winning Chef Patron, Simon Shaw’s reputation for creating bold and confident dishes based on fresh seasonal ingredients with the best modern traditional flavours and techniques.

“It’s a constant and evolving process to ensure that the menu is always fresh and interesting. As a chef it feeds and satisfies my passion to be creative and the push to be constantly better”, says Shaw.

The El Gato Menu recommends you order five or six dishes to share between two people but adds ‘you can always order more later – that’s the fun of Tapas – and we did! 

The first dish to come from the kitchen was deep-fried Monte Enebro Cheese with orange and rosemary honey. An unusual combination but the orange gave the cheese a tang and eliminated any greasy element. Next we shared Boquerones – marinated white anchovies with garlic, lemon, parsley and olive oil. The anchovies were soft and tender and the refreshing taste of lemon in the marinade perfectly complemented the salty fish.

Our choice of slow roasted aubergine with molasses and fino sherry was one to be savoured. The molasses gave a crisp covering to what is sometimes a soggy vegetable and the sherry gave it a kick. It paired well with the grilled sea bream with saffron pil pil and caramelised onion, the presentation of which was amazing.

I couldn’t resist ordering one of my favourites, meatballs. These were smooth, tasty in texture and served in a flavoursome tomato fritarda sauce made from fresh tomatoes.

My partner was amazed by the Pork Hamburguesa, a tiny bun with a thick, tender slice of pork dressed with a piquilla ketchup – that left him wanting more.

When it came to desserts, Torrijas was my heaven on a plate – a Spanish style bread and butter pudding with raisins soaked in sherry – which was so good I was tempted to re-order it.

I couldn’t resist taking a big spoonful of my partner’s milk chocolate and caramel mousse which he described as ‘lighter than air’ praise indeed from a usually non sweet eater who this time left an empty plate.

El Gato has an excellent well priced wine list and a unique selection from independent producers and if you want to pair your wine most are available by the glass. Highly recommended is the Bodegas Navajas Blanco one of the 10% of white Riojas produced.

With its delicious menu and stunning ambiance this is the new kid on the food block that’s well worth a visit.

Elgato Negro can be found at 35 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JL

T: 0113 3220763

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