VINeataly, Leeds

I heard about VINeataly a while ago but despite it being a stones throw from where I live I'd never ventured in. It's partly due to the fact I've fallen out of love with The Hop next door (nothing but very similar pale ales on cask served through a far too tight sparkler) and as such I rarely venture over to Granary Wharf anymore.

But VINeataly is worth the special visit. Very traditionally Italian in its attitude and offerings, I liked the place a lot and was surprised to see a small but interesting selection of Italian craft beers on offer in small and large bottles alongside the obligatory Peroni on draft. They are pretty pricey it has to be said but worth a try.

We stayed for food and had their classic antipasto to start with, which at £5.99 per person seemed pricey until it arrived. Big piles of both cooked ham and prosciutto, very good tomato and basil bruschetta, good chunks of what I think were manchego and a ewe's milk cheese, mozzarella balls with spices and some of the best green olives I've tasted outside of Salvo's. It was a huge platter that would pretty much do two people for lunch.

The main's are reasonably priced (around £8-9). Obviously homemade with good ingredients, they were tasty enough, but I was disappointed to see them microwaving the 'baked' pasta dishes. If I'm honest I wouldn't order the main pasta dishes again for this very reason, as the pasta arrived over cooked and very soft. Why make your own pasta and then do this to it!?

The bottle of Baladin Open India Pale Ale I had (7.5% unlike the 7% it states on the menu) was a really nice, drinkable IPA. The aroma is really clean with soft citrus and a biscuity malt character in the background. In the flavour you get more of the same, as well as a light sweetness and a slightly funky yeast flavour hanging behind citrusy orange.

It has Medium-low bitterness (for an IPA) and an ABV that is totally hidden. File under 'dangerously drinkable'.

I also had a very good 'Boulevardier' cocktail served short martini style and made with bourbon, bitters, Campari and a few others bits and pieces I can't remember. The cocktails in general were a cut above the average.

All in all VINeataly is well worth a visit.



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