It is often said that during austerity, we have a habit of looking backwards towards more familiar, comfortable times. The human race have been doing it forever, and sometimes we call it Romanticism. Born out of the uncertainty of the industrial revolution, the romantic movement sparked a shift towards the subjective, irrational, personal and spontaneous and the heightened appreciation of the beauty of nature. This same sentimentality and the tendency to look backwards has been recognised as the crux of the success of recent television series like Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife. We humans are creatures of habit, and although the changes are entirely our own making and our world is ever evolving we still fear the unfamiliar, yet hindsight allows our memories to take on a rosie tint, and permits us to dwell in a more comfortable place .
Whilst it might seem tenuous to compare a dinner to an entire artistic movement, we do live in a world where street food is becoming king and where burgers have become distorted beyond recognition, they arrive stacked and sandwiched between doughnuts, topped with things like bacon rain. Although a few years ago I never thought it was possible, it transpires that there is a limit to how many times you can be faced with the new best burger in Leeds; a sentiment shared by all diners involved on this particular night. So, in the name of Romanticism, and after a rapid sprint down memory lane to remember the best meals of the past 3 years, the decision to head out to Salvo’s was an easy one.
I don’t doubt the fact that you probably know about Salvo’s already, it has after all been in business for 35 years and tops most lists of places to take your parents when they come to visit (on the premise that you put the effort into finding it, therefore they can foot the bill, of course). This is not supposed to be a review as such, it is really an homage to a piece of Yorkshire’s food heritage where Italian food which once bewildered the English palette has become one of our most loved cuisines. We started with the Frittura Di Calamari E Zucchine- (deep fried squid and zucchini with caper mayonnaise), and the Antipasto Alla Pecorara (grilled smoked ewes ricotta with chargrilled aubergines and roast red peppers) moved on to Scallopine di Pollo (grilled escalopes of free range chicken with cremini mushrooms, lemon and rosemary) Uccelli Scapati (veal escalopes rolled with prosciutto and provolone, served with buckwheat polenta and veal gravy), and the Pasta Al’Forno (baked creamy pasta with ham, meatballs, spicy salame and gratin of mozzarella) and after copious amounts of red wine, lingered until we were the last table left and the waiting staff were getting ready to go home. Like any decent restaurant, there’s no rush, no pushy tutting waiters and no price on time. If Romanticism is a rebellion against established social rules and conventions, then I’ll skip the burgers for now and make myself comfortable at Salvo’s.