Strano (meaning strange in Italian) is a relatively new concept restaurant idea that takes place at a secret location every few months in Leeds. The theory is that eating out should be an event and bring all the theatre that comes with that. The set-up is really great, you pay a fixed price for your dining evening, but you have no clue what the food will be, only that you won’t have eaten it before. There is always a general theme that the evening will follow, but beyond that it’s a jump in to the unknown. FUN!
My partner and I are big foodies and love trying new eating experiences. So when I got wind of Strano on Twitter I pounced on some tickets as soon as they were available and it didn’t disappoint.
The night took place at Jam in Headingly, we were greeted at the door and escorted to a fantastic make-shift bar filled with an eclectic mix of suitcases, plush sofas and stone tables. The sound of Bossa Nova in the air, also earned them bonus points.
At the bar, we had a choice of some interesting wines, fantastic beers and sparkling wines. I opted for some Madonna Pils, an Italian take on Czech Pilsner which was a total triumph, much softer than traditional Czech lager but still had the punch. My partner opted for a glass of sparkling wine which also went down very quickly!
After drinks, we were shown a short video to illustrate the theme of the evening, which was clearly the inspiration for our first course.
We were then shown to our seats ready for the theatre to begin.
Each course was served along with accompanying music, which was a fun addition.
Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You #2
The first course was a fun twist on the previous events course by the same name, where food was served on porcelain hands. On each table were a bib and a plastic glove, when the food arrived the waiter smiled and with a wink of the eye said “You Know What To Do”. And with that walked off. It was around this time we realised we didn’t have any cutlery and they weren’t going to bring us any.
Once we had put on our bibs and plastic gloves we got stuck in to the first course. It was a bowl of spaghetti, topped with sweetbreads and lamb belly. Incredibly soft. I’ve never eaten spaghetti by hand before and it was quite a fun way to set the tone for the evening.
The rest of the evening we was allowed to use cutlery, which was probably for the best!
Pane Di Risotto Milanese
To follow the first course, we were served Pane Di Risotto Milanese on a long tray to share.
This was the most “traditional” course of the evening, but still had some fantastic flavour combinations. It consisted of freshly baked bread. Colaturo butter and bone marrow topped with risotto milanese bread. I had never had colaturo butter before and the waiter informed me it was a traditional Roman recipe, which contained anchovy drainings.
Quatroruote (Tuna/Banana 4×4)
Next up was the course I think everyone in the room raised an eyebrow at, it was certainly one that divided the room. We were served seared tuna with banana 4 ways.
Plain banana, banana chocolate, banana fritter, and banana sorbet. The tuna was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth, I have to admit I didn’t enjoy the plain banana, banana chocolate or sorbet with the tuna, and neither did my partner… However, the fritter did win me over, the extra sweetness added more to the combination and if ever banana with tuna is to work I’d pursue that avenue, but I guess the verdict is still out.
Course number 4 was probably my favourite of the night, it was a ham hock ravioli, chicken liver pate, asparagus and asparagus veloute served with popcorn and a toffee sauce.
The combination at first seemed a bit out there to me until my rather clever partner pointed out that honey glazed ham is a regular staple, so it’s not too big a jump to pair ham, pasta and toffee together. The porcorn added a bit of texture to the dish that was welcome.
The Ambassadors Venison
With that title what else could be coming? Course 5 was venison cooked to perfection accompanied by wilted greens, parsnip puree, hazelnuts and creme caramel…And a deep fried Ferraro Rocher.
My partner, originally from Scotland liked the idea of the twist on a deep fried Mars bar, but wasn’t the biggest fan when it came to eating it, she complained it was too sweet. I on the other hand loved it, I’m not entirely sure if it went with the rest of the dish, which was buttery smooth perfection but it was a fun distraction and certainly part of the reason why I came.
The final course of the night was a desert made from all the things that killed Elvis, served to the track “Easy Come Easy Go” it was ice cream flavoured with peanut butter and topped with a rasher of crispy bacon, strawberry and toffee jellies, peanut butter cubes and croutons. It was a fantastic end to the night.