“Obscure food in a fashionable environment” is one reader’s snapshot of The Man Behind the Curtain. Taking its name from a quote in The Wizard of Oz, this cool white space atop Flannels clothes store promises views over the city’s rooftops and a menu that throws down lots of boundary-smashing gauntlets: thrills and challenges abound as maverick chef Michael O’Hare conjures up a riot of cutting-edge dishes – although the whole experience sometimes feels like performance art rather than a meal.
At lunchtime, you can graze from a ‘rapide’ menu, but the real action takes place in the evening, when it’s all about ‘the permanent collection’ – a tasting extravaganza involving 10 to 14 ‘sequences’ (aka courses) running from Wagyu beef with olive juice to a dessert that combines cardamom and lemongrass soup with chilli sorbet. In between, expect the unexpected as the chef conjures up tomato tartare with beetroot and macadamia nuts, ackee and salt fish with tripe dumplings, artichoke and brioche Rossini or bowls of birds’ nest and kimchi ramen. To drink, off-piste wines and wacky cocktails are the stars – in short, this place is a genuine one-off.
The Man Behind the Curtain was awarded a coveted Michelin star in 2015, and subsequently three AA Rosettes, so you’re near guaranteed a good meal here. Because of the scarcity of similarly-awarded restaurants in Leeds it does get booked up ahead of time, so it’s always worth securing your spot if you’re thinking about visiting.
If after dining at this city centre restaurant you want to take a little piece of your experience with you, it’s good news. Michael O’Hare has created a shop of various goods for fans of his brand to buy. You might be surprised to know that you can purchase a slogan skateboard for £50, or even house-branded gin by Slingsby.