July 2017: Michael O'Hare will move his flagship restaurant to the ground floor of its existing Leeds building in September, to a site that is double the size. The interior will undergo a £1m refit.
Harden's survey result
“Takes all your prejudices and chucks ’em out of the window” – Michael O’Hare’s wild and wacky city-centre four-year-old continues to astound and delight its large fan base with multi-course extravaganzas that are a total wow: “pure theatre”, with “sensational” dishes (“beautifully artistic presentations, without losing any balance of texture or flavour”) delivered by “great northern servers who cut through the potential pretension”. There’s no hiding, however, that it has put in a more mixed performance since it moved in October 2017 from the quirky rooftop space over the Flannels department store to the newly-converted basement below it, with a vocal minority of refuseniks now dragging ratings down: “not as good as it used to be…”, “more style over substance now…”, “chef seems to be playing the ‘superstar’, but the food can be disappointing”.
“The novelty of entering through Flannels menswear shop provides amusement on both the way in and out” of Michael O’Hare’s “avant garde” city-centre venture – an “airy” rooftop space over a store (and bizarrely approached through it). Its fame has spread nowadays as a “never-had-anything-like-it” experience (“if you can actually get a table”) – featuring “food as theatre” from “truly memorable” 10-course or 14-course tasting menus, all in a style that’s “gastronomic but not pompous”. “The wine-pairing is excellent too; intelligently done, and very good value”. It’s not for everyone. Even fans concede that “the food can be a bit of an assault on the senses”, and while they say that’s “in a brilliant way”, there are a few sceptics to whom it “feels a bit like Emperor’s New Clothes: too rich and with too little variation”. More commonly though, it’s judged “totally inspiring”.
Amongst the most notable restaurants in the UK – Michael Hare’s “unforgettable and must-visit” city-centre venue is “truly unique and improving exponentially”. It’s “a barn of a room” – a rooftop space over a men’s clothes store, bizarrely entered through a shop – but service is “exemplary” and in any case you are here for the cooking: “a tour de force of whimsical and exciting food” (“some dishes reduced us to giggling schoolchildren at their brilliant audacity”) from an “utterly beguiling” menu that “superficially looks gimmicky, but what it delivers is just remarkably delicious”.
“Unique, esoteric, a bit mad, but ultimately one of the UK’s most interesting restaurants!” – Michael Hare’s “thrilling” city-centre venue – a rooftop space over a men’s clothes store – leaves most reporters “blown away”. “It’s a bit weird entering through a shop”, and the “airy, light and barn-like space”, while a tad “strange”, is “not unpleasant”. A meal comprises “a never-ending set of startlingly presented dishes”, and though “some of them sound outrageous” the food that arrives is “exquisitely composed and brilliant”, and “with remarkably little gimmickry or striving for effect”. It is robbed of our highest marks by one or two refuseniks who found the performance too “bizarre, and very expensive for what you get”.
The Man Behind The Curtain Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Some excellent dishes, some a bit average. Strange booking policy - pay in advance and no cancellations or refunds. Riding high currently, will it stay there?"
"Our trip to Leeds made a visit here an interesting choice and also a certainty after paying for the dinner several months in advance, no changing the mind here. It seems they originally made their name on an upper floor in this gents outfitters but are now in expensively decorated basement. Perhaps partly because of the booking conditions it was not busy, perhaps a quarter full, we were shown to a good table in a back corner so we had a view of the full layout, Menus and black napkins are on the table in a black box,after that a procession of small courses on very interesting plates are presented at the table by at least 3 people 2 from the direction of the kitchen in elaborate aprons and a waiter to describe. Mostly very good some very tasty, if often a little to small. some slightly larger dishes such as thw Squab were excellent. The meal was fine for the price pretty much the going rate, more thought could perhaps be put to the food rather than the presentation. We did feel however the wine prices were rather steep, we can not be the only customers who travel for interesting food but not being wine connoisseurs just need a reasonable bottle at not to silly a price, there appeared to be none here, do not try and check on line as there is nothing showing. Overall a disappointment."
Top Floor Flannels, 68-78 Vicar Ln, Leeds, LS1 7JH
|Tuesday||6 pm-8:15 pm|
|Wednesday||6 pm-8:15 pm|
|Thursday||6 pm-8:15 pm|
|Friday||12:15 pm-2 pm, 6 pm-9:30 pm|
|Saturday||12:15 pm-2 pm, 5 pm-9:30 pm|