One evening last week I popped down to the Black Swan Leeds, for a post-work dinner to try out the vegan options on their brand new seasonal menu. Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a mid-week treat and fancy meal for no reason whatsoever!
The Black Swan Leeds change their menu frequently, according to the seasons, with their most recent one having launched this February. Taking a look at the menu online I wasn’t too sure if there would be any vegan options, but the Black Swan kindly emailed over to me what each of the three – yes, three – vegan courses on offer would be.
If you’re vegan then you’ll know exactly why it’s so exciting that there would be three courses. It’s far too common to find that even when a restaurant offers a vegan main, or maybe a vegan main and starter, it’s rare that there’s three vegan courses including dessert. So things were off to a good start!
The three vegan courses at the Black Swan were:
Starter – White Onion Soup
Main – Sweet Potato & Quinoa Cakes with Red Pepper Dressing
Dessert – Apple Fritter with Raspberry Sorbet
But before I get onto the food, let’s talk about the Black Swan Leeds itself. The pub-come-restaurant is a bit of a departure from the archetypal Call Lane establishment (in case you’re not familiar with Leeds, it’s a bit of a party district) as they serve food throughout the day and evening before transforming into a late-night venue as the day progresses. The venue has two floors but with it being a Tuesday evening when Pete and I visited only downstairs was open. We were seated in a window booth, which gave us a nice bit of privacy and meant I felt slightly less awkward having my DSLR out (#bloggerproblems).
The cosy interior is an eclectic mix of wood, patterned tiles, vintage festival posters dotted around, vintage signs, mismatched glassware and fairy lights, set to a solid soundtrack. We heard The Smiths at least three times during our meal – no complaints here.
As I mentioned, I knew what my three vegan dishes at the Black Swan Leeds were going to be before we arrived. Pete chose his non-vegan dishes from the menu and confirmed that he was thoroughly impressed with his options. We were also immediately impressed by the friendly staff and prompt service.
My first course was the White Onion Soup drizzled with basil oil and accompanied by two fingers of focaccia. Soup isn’t something I ever order when I’m eating out – I suppose it doesn’t seem special enough and often isn’t – so this was the course I was least excited about. As soon as I tasted it, however, my opinion completely changed as it was so full of flavour and smooth and creamy. The focaccia was crisp on the outside, with quite a bite to it, but so unexpectedly fluffy on the inside with a real hint of olive oil. My mind might have been changed about ordering soup – certainly at the Black Swan anyway!
For main, I had Sweet Potato & Quinoa Cakes with Red Pepper Dressing served with wilted pak choi. This was very much a vegan main course that I could get excited about. In a similar way to the focaccia, the sweet potato and quinoa cakes were crisp and soft in all the right places, the flavours were spot on, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The pak choi was a little bland but provided a nice bit of freshness alongside the battered cakes.
Finally, dessert: Apple Fritter with Raspberry Sorbet. You might be wondering about having two courses side-by-side both contain battered food, but fear not; the batter was crispy and delicate around the apple, whilst the tangy raspberry sorbet kept my palette clean (there was no non-poncey was to say that…). An absolute winner.
The Black Swan Leeds is exactly the kind of establishment Pete and I are always on the hunt for as a couple: somewhere that has equally appealing vegan options as it does other options. Though there was only one vegan option available for each course, knowing that the Black Swan’s menu changes frequently is a bonus. If they continue to offer vegan options, then we’ll be excited to visit regularly knowing there’ll be different items for me with every new menu. All in all, the Black Swan Leeds gets full marks from a vegan and a non-vegan!
I was kindly invited down to the Black Swan to try out their vegan options but all photos, opinions, etc. are my own.