Woodlands cuisine has its foundation in traditional and modern British favourites, though it is clearly influenced by a spectrum of cultures. Fresh ingredients and regional, seasonal produce are reassuringly evident. Paul Sowden, a chef who is rapidly carving out an excellent reputation around Leeds, marshalls the kitchen, seeing to it that all food preparation is executed carefully, details punctiliously attended to, and service in general nothing less than brilliant.
A sprightly combination of expertly seared king scallops and beef carpaccio pushed all the right buttons - it is as good a starter as you'll get. Across the table, a terrine of seductively smoky Loch Fyne salmon shared a similar energy and cheeriness. Grilled teriyaki chicken with oriental vegetables - with its dizzying aroma - displayed diligent cooking, and there's certainly no knocking the portion control. Further generosity and skill was found in the fillet of Scottish beef with fat-cut chips, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes and pepper sauce - a veritable lesson in fine meat cookery.
We practically fell over ourselves when served the mother of all sticky toffee puddings, light but unapologetically raunchy. This was over-18 cuisine, positively pay-per-view pudding, as was the lemon tart with coconut sorbet, the iced component melting genially on the tongue. In short, Woodlands is a persuasive blend of the old and the new, where sumptuous comfort prevails and the menu entices without recourse to flowery description. This leaves plenty of room for the food to work its magic.