July 19th, 2006

Feast

Anthony's

Location: 19 Boar Lane, Leeds

I remembered the bread vividly, a compact, petite loaf bolstered by a small dish of green, nutty olive oil, and framed by the rectangular slab of slate beneath it. Three petals of butter accompanied, arranged in a star on a square slab of their own, creamy pale against black. The butters were flavored, sharp, clean, clear, decisive: salted, parmesan, and toasted. Last year I was there for lunch; this time I called further in advance of my trip, and secured a dinner reservation.

And this time, although the butters were as fine as I remembered, the bread as well plated, other things proved the vivid highlights still lingering in memory: an extraordinary amaretto sour; parmesan air; the edibility of a cock's crest; and above all, the sheer humor of the food combinations. I've never found a meal so downright intellectually funny before. Indeed, although I knew that in theory it was possible to have pleasantly humorous meals, I've never encountered one in practice before.

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Much as it's fun to take myself out to dinner, the intricacies and amusement value of the food at Anthony's made me miss the dining company of C. and double0hilly, among other people. There's a great to say, to talk about, to think over in this food. It tastes good, yes, elegantly plated, yes, but there's a whole thought-provoking level to the food which demands conversation. Sometimes, restaurant staff can make up for my desire to talk about the food, to supply more information, to work through what makes it what it is. In this case, the extremely competent staff had by necessity other priorities - so I missed company more than usual. Marzipan, squiggles, classy comfort food, creamy breakfast cereal, stealth duck, sweet savories, a game of textures, and a savoury dessert - nothing was quite as expected - and I mean that in a good way - in the tasting menu at Anthony's.
Fishy Circumstances

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