Leeds restaurants: Meet the head chef behind the Lamb and Flag pub’s famed roast dinners

Famed for its roast dinners, the Lamb and Flag is a traditional country pub in the heart of the city centre

Matt Nolan, 32, is the head chef at the Lamb and Flag on Church Row, Leeds (Photo: Simon Hulme)

Restored from a once-crumbling 19th century building, and boasting a cosy courtyard with views over Leeds Minster, the pub is one of Leeds Brewery’s eight spots across the city.

At the helm of the kitchen is Leeds lad Matt Nolan who has worked in restaurants since he left school at 16.

Matt, 32, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I used to cook a little bit with my grandma – rice pudding, roast dinners, the traditional stuff.

“Then I left school and went straight into pot washing at The Waterfront on Clarence Dock, then moved to pizza chef there. “I enjoyed the hectic-ness of it, the chaos, and seeing people’s faces when you cook.”

Matt, who grew up in Harehills and Roundhay, built a career across several Leeds restaurants and hotels including Lounge Bar and Grill, Malmaison and The Faversham. He was appointed head chef at Lamb and Flag in 2019 and described it as the “perfect fit” for his love of British cooking.

Matt added: “I lived just round the corner, years ago, when it was derelict and an old building. “I used to walk past and say, ‘if I ever have a place, I’d love to own somewhere like that’. “I moved out of town and then never came around here. The job was up for grabs and I didn’t know where it was, then I came here and it turned out to be that building. “It’s like a country pub in the city, which is my kind of thing.”

The Lamb and Flag’s evening menu is full of pub classics, including battered haddock with hand-cut chips and tartare sauce, steak and red wine pie with creamy mashed potato and a garlic and thyme roasted cauliflower steak.

A menu of light bites is served before 5pm, such as sirloin steak, grilled halloumi and Swaledale sausage sandwiches, and the ever-popular Sunday roast dinner menu.

Diners can choose from beef topside, roasted belly pork with crispy crackling, roast chicken breast or a black bean and vegetable loaf, with meat supplied by the Yorkshire Dales Meat Company.

“It’s typical British food using local produce,” Matt said. “My favourite dish has got to be the roast dinners, the Yorkshire puddings are big and it’s all homemade. “Customers can expect a warm welcome, we’re very dog friendly and it’s a place that feels like home. It’s comfortable and not over the top.”

The Lamb and Flag is getting back into full swing now Covid restrictions have been lifted and Matt is enjoying the buzz that’s returned to the kitchen.

He added: “It was hard for me in the pandemic, you’re used to the chaos and doing shifts – and then nothing. But the company was brilliant, they treated us well and kept in touch all the time. “None of the staff were made redundant. All those people are still here and it pays them back when you’re being treated well. “I love the buzz you get when things are going against you and it gets really busy, the camaraderie of getting through it together.”