I was looking forward to visiting Create after reading Jay Rayner's review in the Guardian. The food sounded excellent. Seasonal, unfussy, gutsy, and with a modern flair and artistry that lifts a dish to something much more exciting. I didn't even think about the beer really. I've trained myself not to get my hopes up when it comes to good restaurant's beer menus. If you're lucky you might get a bottle of Sierra Nevada, but something really exciting, or local? Unlikely.
Then I spotted something about a Rhubarb and Ilkley Brewery food and beer event happening at Create and my interest really peaked (a table was already booked at this point). It transpired that rather than a generic lager on draught they've taken the bold step of serving MJ Pale, a local beer from Ilkley Brewery's Artisan keg range, as well as a really good selection of bottled beers from the always dependable Samuel Smiths Brewery.
You have no idea what a nice surprise it was to read that beer menu at Create, finally an upmarket restaurant that is taking beer seriously. A great local beer on draught and a well chosen selection of beers in bottles that would pair well with the food, and even an Imperial Stout to match with the desserts.
The mains carried on the theme of simple ingredients cooked skillfully and with flair but not fuss. Colette’s salt beef with mash potatoes and a caper sauce was a huge slab of tender red brisket that needed the citrusy caper sauce to counteract the salty richness of the meat. It was a real comfort food dish this, perfect for a properly cold night.
As good as the salt beef was, my main was even better. The skirt steak was one of the tastiest pieces of meat I’ve had in a very long time, and even better than the Bavette a l'echalotte from La Grillade (also skirt steak, and a big favourite of mine). The thing with skirt steak is it has great flavour but can be a little tough if not handled and cooked correctly. I ordered it rare and it came perfectly cooked, and I mean perfect. The great thing was that it was really nicely charred on the outside and evenly rare throughout the whole steak, well rested, tender and juicy. The accompaniments were excellent, but at this level of cooking I would have liked better chips, something double cooked and handcut. But it’s a minor niggle when your eating a steak that is this good.
Despite the mains being generously sized we decided a dessert would just about fit. One chocolate brownie with white chocolate icecream and one chargrilled rum banana with toasted marshmallow and the same (excellent) icecream. Oh and a bottle of Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout to pair with it.
Both desserts were great with the Imperial Stout, but it was the combination of the banana dessert with the beer that sticks in my mind. The boozy sweetness of it, and the well charred banana and dark chocolate sauce just went so well with the chocolatey, slightly sour notes of the Sam Smiths beer. It’s more of an Export Stout than an Imperial Stout by my tastes, and with this dessert worked perfectly.
So there you have it. Amazing food, well chosen beer, and a little bit of care gone in to everything. Exactly what I’m looking for in a restaurant.