The Deer Park – Roundhay

Gifted press meal.

Roundhay is an area of Leeds I’m not quite au fait with; Headingley – tick. Meanwood – tick. Chapel Allerton – tick. Street Lane in Roundhay is especially somewhere I hear a lot about but never really frequent. Which is why I’ve never visited The Deer Park even though it’s been open yonks. Never one to turn down an invite to somewhere new, I happily accepted their relaunch party last Wednesday.

I can’t vouch for what it looked like before but it’s very cosy – lots of dark woods, heavy fabrics and low lighting. The kind of place you could while away a few hours on a rainy evening and not notice. The menu has also been revamped and is a good mix – there’s your classic pub dishes that will keep less than adventurous eaters happy but also some more experimental ones that you perhaps wouldn’t expect from this local pub. After a glass of G&T and some canapes we dove into the buzzing dining room to try out the new food…

The Starters

P started with the Deep Fried Brie (£6.25), Katy had the Oven Baked Prawns & Lobster (£8.25) and I had the Truffled Goats Cheese with Beetroot (£7.25) – a mix of that classic pub grub and some more left field options. My goats cheese was delicious – a perfectly balanced mix of rich truffle goats cheese, chilli spiked beetroot and sweet apple – as good as many fine dining restaurants could do. Katy’s starter was also tasty (if a bit more classic) – succulent prawns and lobsters topped with a garlic, herb butter and a hearty hunk of bread for dunking. P was less impressed with his brie; although not greasy it was in need of a good pinch of salt to lift the cheesy flavour so came off a bit bland.

The Mains

For mains I had the Rack of Lamb (£21.95), Katy had the Rump Steak (£18.95) and P had the Southern Fried Chicken (£15.50). Katy was thoroughly happy with hers; good quality meat and perfectly medium rare with a rich, peppery sauce and crispy fries. My main was mixed – the aubergine and red pepper served with the lamb were tasty and the wedge of dauphinoise was deliciously creamy and garlicky (the best combo). I’d asked for the lamb rare and my, was it! I ate the bits that were cooked enough for me and they were really good but be warned, this is the French definition so go for medium rare if you’re after pink meat rather than blue. P’s main was probably my favourite out of the three dishes; a chicken breast stuffed with nduja sausage to give it a spicy edge and then buttermilk southern fried served alongside sweet potato fries and a slaw. Not your usual pub grub but definitely one to try if you’re a bit more adventurous!

The Desserts

You’d think we’d be stuffed by then but we managed to squeeze in a pudding! Katy had the Chocolate Brownie (£6.50) and said it was one of the best she’d had (I didn’t even get a look in). I went for the Apple & Rhubarb Crumble with Custard (£5.95) and it was exactly what you’d want from a crumble – warming, hearty and perfect for cold evenings hunkered up in the local pub. Throughout the evening we’d seen chocolate bombes carried to diner’s tables and they looked so theatrical one of us had to try it – P nominated himself. The Melting Peanut & Chocolate Bombe (£7.95) is truly one for the sweet tooth. A chocolate shell encases sticky toffee pudding and peanut butter cream with a hot caramel sauce to melt the shell alongside a bourbon ice cream. Sound like a lot? Yes, it was. I’d say order between 2 people to avoid a sugar coma.

I can’t say if The Deer Park is better or worse since its revamp seeing as it was my first visit, but I will say that the food is definitely worthy of a visit if it’s your local. It feels to me the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon with a large glass of red and a leisurely dinner.

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