Fine mother’s ruin at Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen
An invitation to a Tuesday night history lesson would usually be met with a polite ‘thanks but no thanks – see you next Tuesday’, however, given it was to be held at Old Toms Gin Kitchen, I was sold.
So, off I went like the freeloading blogger that I am, to sample the latest wares offered by The Hedonist Project whose expert knowledge on the world of booze is unrivalled in Leeds and indeed beyond.
They’ve nailed the pop-up bar concept in this fine city of ours, giving punters something completely fresh every three months by focusing on a different spirit as well as décor and food befitting of the season.
The latest reincarnation is the fourth from the lads and the second one to reside in their now permanent home on Lower Briggate. After the success of the Whiskey Parlour, the pressure was on to comeback with something equally as appealing and Old Toms Gin Kitchen has definitely achieved that.
However, those thinking this is just a great place to get their gin fix should take a look at the food menu, which manages to be imaginative whilst also complementing the drinks on offer.
The first tipple we sampled was the bars own brand of lemon gin, which was served with fresh tarragon and soda water. This was as refreshing as they come and definitely one for summer.
This was all accompanied with a fascinating insight into the history of gin, courtesy of The Hedonist Projects Dan, which was far more interesting than anything I was taught in school. Did you know that the term ‘Dutch courage’ harks back to a time when soldiers would knock back gin in order to prepare for battle? Okay, so maybe you knew, but it was news to me.
You would be forgiven for being a tad sceptical over a gin bar breakfast menu, however the two dishes we tasted proved otherwise. The Manuka Honey and Granola Bar (3.50) was darn good, featuring hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds, then garnished with berries and frozen yoghurt.
My favourite however was the Smashed Avocado on Wholemeal Bread (4.00), which was topped with the most perfectly cooked poached egg. Avocado I can take or leave, but you can’t beat a good poached egg, especially when it’s perched atop a toasted muffin – oh yeah!
Next, it was back to the booze and onto the historical Bathtub Gin, which harks back to the Prohibition era when the alcohol-starved residents of London were forced to produce their own gin at home.
The Old Tom Bathtub variant we were lucky enough to try was a highlight for me – sweeter than your average gin, it also features pleasant liquorice tones. If this is what gin was like back in the Prohibition era, then it’s easy to understand why London became like a scene from The Walking Dead, with the majority of residents wondering around like drunken zombies.
For the next dish came the Courgette and Aubergine Melanzane (6.50) which came with pitta strips. I would never have ordered this myself, as am neither a fan of courgettes or aubergines, but it was incredibly moreish thanks to the tasty tomato and cheese topping. Why couldn’t my mum manage to craftily disguise veg in such a manner whilst I was growing up?
Rather fittingly, dessert came in the shape of the beautiful Lemon Drizzle Cake (3.50) which was blessed with lemon and thyme sauce, and the Roasted Barley Bramble (7.50) cocktail. On paper, this is a drink that sounds plain wrong, but in reality is quite the opposite.
Perfect for those with a sweet tooth, it features Tanqueray Gin, roasted barley syrup, fresh lemon juice and comes with a side serving of bramble and lemon foam jam. Sounds a bit poncey I know, but please believe when I say this drink is a winner.
Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen should be proud of the fact they more than hold their own against other brilliant gin bars Leeds is now blessed with, so hats off to them. I can’t wait for their next venture, which is set to be a surf shack and beach bar serving up rum cocktails –until then, go pay Old Tom a visit, cos once he’s gone, he’s gone.