Nothing like breaking up the week (er... on a Monday) than a date night at Zizzi at The Light, Leeds, and it was a good chance to try out their new limited edition dishes. Plus, the new menu comes alongside the restaurant chain's partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, which includes an option for diners to donate 25% of their food bill to charity. It's a cause close to my heart, so I was happy to promote it.
To kick things off to a refreshing start I opted for the Strawberry & Basil Cooler; a softail created in aid of #DryJanuary. The basil was notably absent, though, and in its place was a sprig of rosemary. This was possibly due to a mix up with the Apple, Mint & Ginger Cooler which does include a rosemary garnish, nonetheless it was delightfully fresh beverage which smelled like a herb garden and tasted like summer had arrived early. I love a good soft drink when I'm eating out, a bottle of wine is hugely overrated.
The Mini Arancini starter was a tasty first course, if a little underwhelming. Fried risotto balls with Basilicata sausage, pancetta and mozzarella, they were nice and crispy on the outside and generously portioned. Great comfort food but the meaty flavours were distinctly lacking. The smoky chilli jam dip was essential to the flavour here, otherwise it was essentially a ball of gooey, cheesy risotto. Still, they were moreish, even if they weren't exploding with flavour.
For the main I opted for the Veganuary menu addition: Vegan Pumpkin & Sage Tortelloni. Again, my interest wasn't peaked. Underseasoned and even a little doughy, I was surprised by the blandness. Given the still meagre vegan options in restaurants generally, there's little excuse not to deliver on flavour. You can't compromise on taste for vegan food anymore, we're in 2020 after all! It would probably have felt more appropriate as a light lunch rather than a main evening meal.
The Calzone Venison & Wild Boar (with mushrooms, mozzarella and sage) was impressively portioned and very satisfying. Not too doughy, well-proportioned with beautifully tender meat, though it tasted more like a meat pie than a traditional calzone, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Delicately seasoned, the venison and wild boar were indistinguishable from each other; a superfluous combination in all honesty.
For dessert I wasted no time in ordering the Molten Chocolate Fudge Pudding which sounded heavenly. Indeed, it was deliciously moist and there was plenty of it, with gelato on the side and a mini jug of chocolate sauce which was a satisfying pouring experienced. The crushed honeycomb was an interesting addition, but considering the menu listed flavours like "hazelnut fudge", "honey" and "sea salt", they weren't quite balanced enough to create something particularly unique.
You can't accuse Zizzi of overdoing it, but somebody needs to tell them that less isn't always more. On the other hand, we're talking reasonable prices, friendly service and uncomplicated dishes that still manage to shake things up. I'll certainly go again for a casual weekday nibble.