Yesterday, I ate dinner next to a cow. On Lower Briggate. This wasn’t any cow. It was an uncommonly excellent Longhorn cow, called Sue. It was RARE.
I thought I may as well start my review with a mention of the taxidermy beauty that dominates the downstairs dining space at Lower Briggate’s newest steakhouse, RARE, part of the ongoing development of Lambert’s Yard. (Leeds has arrived at the Damien Hirst ‘formalde-hype’ party a little later than most). The place reminded me of Tramshed, in London, where the focus is on the animal, as well as the dish, you’re eating. In our processed food age, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded. The menu is minimalistic, too: “COW”, “PIG” and “GAME” headings for the main courses make it easy to digest the tempting choices.
RARE prides itself on uncommon excellence. For a new restaurant, they are setting the bar high. And why not? Luckily, the service is friendly, and most importantly, the food lives up to the marketing promise. Less pretentious than Gauchos, and more upmarket than Red’s True BBQ, it’s the perfect place for a juicy steak. We used a Pink Gorilla voucher, which gave us 50% off mid-week. Would I have paid the full £60 for 1KG of Longhorn Porterhouse steak to share, along with two sides? For a special occasion, maybe.
There’s no denying it was an excellent piece of meat, well-seasoned with oak smoked sea salt. The sides of triple cooked chips (with the same oak smoked sea salt) and Henderson’s sauce giant onion rings were crisped to perfection. The steak even came with a pea shoot salad on top, to add a bit of greenery to the double carbs we had picked. But at this price, peppercorn sauce shouldn’t cost extra (it was only £1.50, but still).
The Gran Sasso Montepulciano D’abruzzo by the glass (a reasonable £5.75) was just the right side of fruity and complemented the salty steak perfectly. I did want to try the sticky cinder toffee pudding, which looked delicious (and enormous) but alas, I had been beaten by the meat feast. There’s always next time.
I’ll definitely be back – the cocktails served in the upstairs bar look tempting too – and there’s even a gin-based creme de fraise, orange curaceau and lemon curd cocktail garnished with pancetta. Takes the concept of bar snacks to a new level.
Uncommon excellence? On my visit, I’d have to agree.
163 Lower Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LY