Eating Out Scout: No. 26 Aire Street
Upon entering No.26 Aire St I was met with mood lighting, chrome and clean wooden table tops, a fresh aesthetic obviously a source of attraction to commuters, as the bar was crowded with the 6 o’clock suits.
Despite being initially intimidated by the slightly older clientele, my friend and I moved through the bar area into one of the eating and lounge areas, where the atmosphere was more relaxed and the volume, thankfully, a little quieter. We were impressed by the creative boasts:No.26 Aire Stis the only restaurant inLeedsto pick and serve their produce from a living bar wall of herbs and fruit. They are also the only place in the UK to serve Rekorderlig cider entirely on tap, and there is a small gallery adjoining the restaurant that we were encouraged to explore after our meal, currently showcasing the work of Skins photographer Ewen Spencer; so far, so good.
We were served promptly with our drinks; two of their custom-make cocktails, made by bar ‘freshologists’. I chose the Strawberry and Lemon Curd cocktail, an unlikely combination but one that really worked. It was the perfect creaminess and presented beautifully. My friend tried one of the Rekorderlig cocktails they had to offer, again garnished with strawberries picked by the barman from the bar walls.
At £6 each the cocktails constituted a slightly more upmarket alternative to our normal Friday night cocktails at Massey’s, the only thing missing was a student friendly 2-4-1 deal. They do however offer cocktail making lessons for birthdays, which I mentally noted for my 21st.
26 Aire Street’s menu is distinctly Mediterranean. Our starter was one of the meat platters, a selection of thinly sliced cured meats, olives and Mediterranean vegetables, served on an authentic slate. It was delicious; we were silent for a good 5 minutes, first taking stock, and then munching through everything. The menu also presents a cheese and fish alternative to the meat slate. These are perhaps better options for those who are wary of strong flavours; some of the meats, especially the Iberico ham were extremely rich. At £10 a pop, these sharing starters were reasonably priced too.
For the lunchtime menu punters have a list of gourmet sandwiches to choose from. However as we came during the early evening, we had the possibility of either a freshly picked salad or a handmade thin crust pizza. I chose the slow roasted peri peri, garnished by Mediterranean vegetables, Aire St chilli and rosemary. The pizza base was large and square, providing excellent value for £7, even though the crusts were slightly rustic and well done. The melted mozzarella was divine, instantly topping my stock Pizza Express or Zizzi’s favourites. My friend choose the Aire St variation on the classic Chicken Caesar salad, which he assures me contained fresh, succulent chicken and nice herbs. However it is here, if anywhere,No. 26 Aire Stslightly overeggs their ‘fresh produce’ pudding; does a Chicken Caeser salad really need huge amounts of potent thyme?
Again, at £6 the salad really was incredible value for money and the presentation, as throughout the entire meal, was great.
All in all the meal was a fabulous experience; the atmosphere was great, ideal for casual drinks with a friend, or lunch or dinner for something slightly more special. No.26 Aire St definitely feels more mature and established than its 4 months and is clearly crying out to be claimed as a hangout forLeeds’ extensive student population.
26 Aire Street,
Tel: 0113 218 1933
Words: Kelechi Anucha