We’d been meaning to spend some time at Napoleon’s casino for ages. In fact in our courting days, my wife Nicola had attempted to woo me by suggesting an evening of cocktails and a little flutter at the very place. If only I’d not played hard- to-get! I’d of gotten my lady quicker and had a wonderful night to boot.
Situated just off Kirkstall Road, Napoleon’s Casino and Restaurant is a mere 5 minute taxi ride from town. Being further away as it’s advantages, as they have a huge free car park and once you’re in, everything
you could want from a top night out is under one roof. No need for an endless pub crawl or search for a grotty pizza at the end of the night, Napoleon’s offers the ultimate night out with a massive pinch of class thrown in.
As we sashayed into reception I wished I had made more of an effort as the tone of the place is decidedly Bond-esque. The bar area frequented at that time by a few business men enjoying this haven from the hustle and bustle outside, and the lovely low lighting and comfy furniture. We decided to sample the delights of the bar, and enjoyed a few large glasses of crisp and cool Sauvignon Blanc to start off the evening. You know you’re in for a good night as the bar offers a full compliment of the best tipples in addition to a separate Gin menu, and even Chateauneuf du Pape for only £25 a bottle.
Greeted by gaming manager Simon, we discovered that the restaurant had always been a feature of the casino, and happy online comments from diners show that Sunday lunch at Napoleon’s is hard to beat. The new Napoleon summer menu merely a week old, we looked forward to being guinea pigs to what
I knew was going to be a fabulous meal. Sitting down at the confetti strewn table (‘why not celebrate a Tuesday night!’) explained our waitress Kristina when we asked what the occasion was) wine glasses rapidly filled back up as we looked at the menu. The choice was varied and looked delicious. I chose tomato and pimento soup, and Nicola the seared salmon with ginger. The soup was sweet and full of flavour, the surprise being an arancini ball in place of a crouton, an utter delight as the crunchy outside giving way to a melting cheese and rice filling… mmmm! The salmon was presented beautifully, the plump fish sat in a cold sauce tangy with citrus and the ginger, cucumber and watercress giving it a Japanese feel. A complimentary bread basket and lovely creamy butter went well with both starters, but left me wishing I’d given it a wide berth as the main courses arrived.
I have never seen a burger so massive before! Tender Wagyu beef with cheese, pancetta and salad leaves
sat on a pretzel bun. Three separate pots of relish, burger sauce and a classic mustard sat next to a generous portion of crispy sweet potato fries and onion rings . The dish was beautifully presented and towered confidently. My dish of stuffed chicken breast was delicious, the meat full of flavour and succulent. The tarragon sauce was tangy and creamy, and the two side dishes of vegetables that came with it fresh and beautifully cooked.
Throughout the meal, our waiter Andre was on hand to recommend wines to match the dishes, and was never far away and glasses were magically filled up. We took a break to sit back and enjoy the lovely surroundings of the restaurant. Its decor overseen by the owner reminded me of a beautiful carriage from a 1930’s Orient Express. It sits on a mezzanine overlooking the buzz and we ate our meal to the sound of the roulette wheel spinning and the plastic swoosh as the loosing chips were whisked away. Happy customers celebrating their luck loudly, and the not so lucky commiserating at the bar. I was impressed that the whole delicious was at such a good price. We had their ‘dine in style’ package which at only £22.95 for 3 courses, also included a welcome drink and a £5 gaming chip!
Dessert followed and for me was the best part of the meal. A delicious warm tart filled with sweet pears and frangipane crowned with a lightly sweetened cappuccino cream. Nicola having conquered her mammoth burger thought she was taking a light option with the assorted sorbets but she soon learned that Napoleon’s are generous with all their portions and even a dish as simple as a sorbet is still given a dash of fairy dust. A platter with 3 scoops of sorbet arrived, with 3 dishes of toppings. And an ice cream cone to finish it off. With strawberries and chocolate, you know, just in case you still had room. Which Nicola didn’t. But, like the trooper she is and never one to back down from a challenge whether it be food related or just being the winner, she polished the lot off including the mint chocolate that came with the coffee.
Her reward for clearing her plate was to be let loose in the casino! Simon took time out to show us both around the casino. The low lighting and beautiful polished wood that we saw in the bar theme continuing. Luxurious carpets muffle the sounds of feet, and the discreet luxury elevates this casino to New York class rather than Las Vegas glitz. Arnie kindly coached us through the rules of Black Jack, and as others joined the table we were soon lost in the electric atmosphere. We moved on to the roulette tables. Like every part of the experience, staff are extremely friendly and efficient, and the table was not over filled with people struggling to place their bets. We had drinks brought to us, and although I’d never promote smoking, their designated area for those of us wanting to pollute our lungs did so in an area with couches. And heaters, and roulette machines so the fun didn’t need to end because Madame nicotine was calling.
All too soon the evening came to an end, and two happy and very full women climbed into a taxi. My lasting impression of Napoleon’s will undoubtedly be I will return to taste more of that wonderful food, but also that the staff at this independently owned business are an absolute credit. At every stage of our evening we were totally looked after. Maybe it was just a quiet night and the team happy to chat to excitable women, but we were treat like royalty from when we stepped in and when we stumbled out. I think people are the real backbone of any business, and for this reason alone if I ever fancy a flutter again, I’ll jump back in a cab and escape from the world for a few hours at Napoleon’s.