Power Corruption Lies Leeds Review
Review: New order is restored to Call Lane, as Power, Corruption & Lies reimagines Norman Bar’s old site in Leeds
Taken over by the Akito Bar Group, who own the keys some of the city’s longest-standing nightlife institutions, the venue’s November transformation was as psychological, as it was physical. With the neon strip lighting and leather booths ejected, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were miles away from that riotous dance floor that was Norman Bar.
The greatest departure is how light the Power, Corruption and Lies restaurant feels. Huge windows expose Leeds’ infamous alleyway to The Space nightclub, framed with exposed brickwork, and original pillars. Tiny cacti’s hang from the railings of the DJ platform with more plants cascading down the side. Grace Kelly records decorate the walls, with globe lampshades above, and just a solo disco ball to remind us that this is still very much a party destination.
The team are fresh with the energy of a new venture. General ManagerRuaraidh Sim enthusiastically tells us about the concept as we join him for lunch. “Oporto has been in Leeds for twenty-three years, Jakes’- fifteen, Neon Cactus – eleven, everybody wants to be seen there”. The family spirit is evident, Akito design bars they’d drink in themselves. He ensures us their day-to-night approach is here for the long run. “Call Lane needs something like this” he goes on, describing their offer in terms of quality, speed and price. Operating table service, with a handful of stools for a more casual bite, plates (3 for £10) arrive as and when tapas-style.
And herein lies the corruption. Each dish, sticky, salty, and tinged with fire, begs for liquor. Running right down the left-hand side, the fluidity of bar into kitchen manifests in the clever pairing of food and drink. Taking inspiration from their travels, and time spent at Tattu and Issho, Chef’s Harley, Rhys, Rob and Christian, serve up Asian fusion in an ultramodern way.
Long wobbly rashers of Sriracha Candied Bacon, seasoned with black pepper and brown sugar, stand in tall glasses beside a strip of banana leaf. Salmon Tartare, mixed through with edamame and yuzu tabasco, comes with prawn crackers. Scooping up soft chunks in the garlicky hollow, this dish can only be described as genius.
Like the album’s memorial to Ian Curtis, Crack Wings remain on the menu as a tribute to Normans, here served with gochujang buffalo, or Power, Corruption & Lies’ own garlic soy sauce. Grilled Squash sprinkled with Togarashi, a Japanese Dukkah-esque spice blend, crests a mild galangal yellow curry. Menus change as frequently as the chef’s creativity and seasonal produce allow; the breakfast katsu added after a hungover Harley craved a filthy-squidgy bao before a shift. Encased in crisp panko breadcrumbs, unctuous slow-cooked ham hock, smothered in soy egg yolk, is finished with spring onions and a fruity lick of Japanese Kewpie mayo.
Real care and attention have gone into the drinks menu; the cocktails a unique celebration of Japanese spirits, the wine list designed to subvert expectations and deviate customers from their go-to grape. From Italian merchants Enotria, choices are void of any tasting notes, challenging the team to recommend using their own knowledge and palate. If you like Chardonnay, they can encourage something different, start a conversation. It’s the same with the dishes, sold to you by staff because they genuinely love eating them.
A fan of a Riesling, I try the Argentinian Torrontes, which, ripe with lychee and orange peel, cuts through the unashamedly rich food. A worthy talking point, the New Zealand Pinot Noir comes from Yealands, a carbon-neutral enterprise which employs Babydoll sheep to graze under the vines.
Asian highballs and sake offer yet more palate-cleansing citrus, served minimally to reflect Power, Corruption & Lies’ style. Ornate china carafes and mini painted cups honour the Japanese tradition of precision and ceremony; it’s bad manners to serve yourself. As Ruaraidh does the honours, he expands on the selection; Junmai meaning without alcohol distillate, Umeshu containing stewed plums, the Yuzushu made from macerating the Japanese lime-like fruit.
Whether you’re a sherry drinker or not, five minutes in a room with him, and he’ll covert you. Low ABV options are as photogenic as their boozy counterparts. Watch this space for Bloody Mary’s garnished with crispy chicken skin.
Manager Ruaraidh got to know Akito Director, Paul Lane, by serving him at Crafthouse, and the group certainly struck gold hiring someone with such knowledge and passion for the industry. There’s an infectiousness about the grinning young team’s ownership of the space, along with their desire to have a good time. DJ’s hit the decks Friday to Saturday night, a two-stepping favourite Uptown Funkin’ mixing on the first Saturday of every month, and Wax Bar’s vinyl king Owen Neary, a regular.
As with many ingredients, the teas on the menu are handpicked from Kirkgate Market’s Teapot, the vegan ice cream made at Knave’s Kitchen over the road; a cool balm alongside their sweet finisher, Apple Pie Tempura. The umami kicks don’t stop at dessert, where, as we’re warned, the soy caramel sauce really is drinkable. Power, Corruption & Lies could well be Call Lane’s newest guilty pleasure.
Power, Corruption & Lies Leeds Address & Contact Details
36 Call Ln, Leeds LS1 6DT – 0113 430 0144 – https://www.powercorruptionandlies.co.uk/
Power, Corruption & Lies Review: Words by YFG’s Sarah Cotterill, Photos by YFG’s Lauryn Young