Sunday, 4 September 2011

Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Cafe Leeds

Myself and my girlfriend decided to go out for dinner, during the discussion of where to go we decided on the fourth floor cafe at Harvey Nichols. It is a venue we have often thought about dining at, but for one reason or another never made it to until now.
We were seated in the corner adjacent to a large window that had a great view over the city's skyline, the restaurant changed from a very light sunlit space into a lovely intimate candlelit venue as the sun set into darkness over Leeds, there is also a terrace that you can sit out on during the day that would be wonderful on a lovely summer's day.

Amuse Bouche - Mozzarella Ball with Tomato Relish

Carpaccio of Venison, Herb Flat Bread, Celeriac, Lemon and Micro Salad

Seared Red Mullet, Rocket and Fennel Puree, Marinated Courgette, Roast Red Pepper Dressing

Roast Wharfedale New Season Lamb Rack, Saffron Braised Chickpeas, Dukkah Spiced Aubergine, Harrisa and Lemon Dressing

Roast Cod Loin, Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Trompette Mushrooms, Blackberry Dressing

Heritage Potatoes with Basil Oil, Hand Cut Chips with Aioli

Lemon Trio - Lemon Pannacotta, Lemon and Polenta Cake, Limoncello and Lemon Curd Semifreddo

Kirsch Cherry and Vanilla Mascarpone Mousse Tartlet, Valrhona Chocolate Sauce

We ordered a bottle of the house red and our food, after ordering we were presented with the mozzarella ball with tomato relish amuse, this was fairly tasty but nothing really special to be honest.

Next up came our starters, mine was the carpaccio of venison, this was done well but slightly bland tasting as though something was missing, looking back at the menu, my photo, and my memory, this dish was supposed to be served with pecorino shavings which I am sure did not appear on the plate.
My girlfriend's starter was the seared red mullet, this was delicious with well balanced flavours, the accompaniments were absolutely perfect.

Onto our mains, my main was the lamb which was a beautiful dish, the North African inspired accompaniments worked wonderfully well. My girlfriend had the roast cod, again this was very, very, good, it was well put together and the fish was cooked perfectly.
For side dishes we chose the heritage potatoes with basil oil and the hand cut chips with aioli, the potatoes were very nice but the chips were completely out of this world, we both agreed that these were the best chips either of us had tasted in our lives, so despite the fact that this was a £90 dinner at Harvey Nicks our fondest memory will always be those chips!

For desserts I had the lemon trio and my girlfriend had the kirsch cherry dessert, I felt the lemon trio was underwhelming, however, the kirsch cherry was a delicious pudding.

All in all it was a lovely atmosphere, our waitress despite being obviously not greatly experienced was enthusiastic and friendly, the breaks between dishes were excellently paced, the food was mostly very good despite a couple of misses. We will be back and we will be having those chips again!

Harvey Nichols
107 Briggate

Telephone: 0113 2048000


Saturday, 6 August 2011


Safran is a Persian restaurant and takeaway on Kirkgate in Leeds City Centre, often hiding behind a Megabus opposite the Duck & Drake, and it's rustic decor fits the menu of traditional Persian and Arabic dishes.

First thing to be aware of is that the portions are HUGE, it seems as though all dishes are sized to share or at least it seemed like the ones we ordered were, also Safran is extremely good value for money. Everything tasted fresh and authentic, except for the fries which were standard frozen ones. Judging by the custom when we visited it would seem that Leeds' Iranian population enjoy eating here which can't be a bad thing.

Safran is not licensed but you are welcome to bring your own bottle!

Leben (on the menu simply as Yoghurt Drink)

Mixed Starter

Freshly Baked Flatbread (part of the mixed starter)

Bakhtiari Mix

Shish Tawouq Dish

Persian Tea and Baklava

This was our first visit to Safran so we were unsure about what to order, portion sizes, etc. We decided on a jug of yoghurt drink (known around asia variously as Leben, Ayran or Dûğ) and the mixed starter, due to getting to taste several things on a first visit. This was a great choice and definitely big enough for two people, the mixed starter comprises of hummus, dressed Mediterranean salad, koubideh kebab, falafel and a freshly baked flatbread. The first thing I noticed was the bread which was beautifully fragrant and tasted delicious, in fact one of my favourite breads I have ever had. The salad was standard Mediterranean salad, mixed leaves, olives, tomatoes, gherkins, peppers etc and all very nice and all very fresh. The hummus was delicious and just beautiful with the bread. The falafel was just how I expect falafel to be, not spectacular but not bad. All in all, this starter is a great success, recommended.

As far as the mains go, it was just too much food, especially after the starter, of course this is not a fault of the restaurant, just our lack of knowledge about how large these portions were, also it was a mistake ordering fries on one of the mains (the portion of fries could have fed three people). I don't eat fries often anyway and only ordered them because the other main came with rice. The salad on the mains was too much again after the mixed starter, and again our fault through inexperience, we simply left all the fries and salad which was a waste.
The kebabs were all great, really great, and these are the star of the show in Safran. In hindsight, when we return (and we will definitely return) we would order the mixed starter and just ask for the kebabs from the mains with maybe one portion of rice to share, no salad, no fries and happily pay full price for that.

For dessert we had the baklava which was three pieces so again a good sized portion. It was nice standard baklava, we accompanied it with a pot of Persian tea which came served in a lovely traditional tea set and the pot came out to quite a few cups, the tea was really nice and a very good match for the baklava.
We would return here simply for tea and baklava as it was really good, the service was relaxed and friendly, the food was delicious and very good value for money. Safran is definitely worth checking out.

81 Kirkgate

Telephone: 0113 2444496

Web: (website menu not up to date at the time of writing)

Friday, 29 July 2011


Distrikt is a bar/tapas bar/restaurant/live music venue slightly hiding on Duncan Street in Leeds City Centre. Do not mistake these multiple identities for a lack of direction, as this is intentional and pulled off spectacularly, if you haven't found it yet do so now because the creative kitchen deserves a wide audience.

First thing you notice on entering is the funky interior with its underground bar, lit up alcoves and cool artwork. Then you open the menu. The focus is on tapas but not the usual Spanish or Latin American fare, the menu at Distrikt is very much modern British cooking drawing influence from the Mediterranean and Middle East.

The provenance of food is particularly important at Distrikt as everything is fresh and local as possible, to the point that the menu names particular stalls of the Leeds Kirkgate Market where the ingredients are sourced. On Mondays in the season they focus on foraged ingredients which you can taste at £5 per dish.

We visited Distrikt on a Wednesday when all the tapas dishes are half price, which averages them at about £2 each. This must be one of the very best midweek dining deals that Leeds has to offer, we will be back and we will be back on any day as the food is definitely worth its full price.

Distrikt also has a very very nice drinks menu, as you would expect, with a good selection of wines, beers and cocktails.

Carpaccio of Yorkshire beef with fresh beetroot, basil, cherry tomatoes and orange reduction

Crayfish tails & cockles with lime, coriander and tomato salad

Smoked haddock ceviche with tomato, caper salsa & crispy tatas

Rare poppy seed tuna with endive, mandarin & crispy shallot salad

Med veg stack with goats cheeese, rocket & balsamic

Field mushrooms on sour dough with kentish truffle & pinenuts

British pork belly with roasted peaches & wood sorrel

Salt & wild pepper squid  with spiced ragu & cous cous salad

Roasted banana with amaretto & cream

Strawberries with balsamic & licor cream
For an introduction to Distrikt half price Wednesdays is a great idea, to put it in perspective the full price of Distrikts tapas is around the same as you will pay for tapas at certain tapas chains and the quality  of the food at Distrikt is obviously far superior in every way, on a Wednesday to pay on average just £2 a dish for food of this quality is just ridiculous.

I haven't really mentioned anything about the individual dishes because everything was so good, a truly local, independent business with a definite sense of style, that has a chef like they have who cares about the provenance of the food they serve deserves the support of this city.

7 Duncan Street

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Guinea Pig Night @ Piazza by Anthony

It has been a while since I updated the blog due to a medical emergency I had at the start of June, thankfully I am recovering well & able to eat out again :D

I haven't seen many reviews online of the Guinea Pig Night at Piazza by Anthony, so here is a little about what it is and what you can expect of the night.

Every Monday is Piazza's Guinea Pig Night, you get 3 courses and coffee for £19.95 per person, you can also have Guinea Pig Wine at £10 per bottle and/or Guinea Pig Cocktails at £5 each. The rules are: for the wine you can choose red or white, for the food you can share/swap courses between the table but cannot return dishes to the kitchen, you can also state when ordering if anyone at the table is vegetarian or has any food allergies and of course this is catered for.

So what are you likely to get? Well it could be anything really, but it shouldn't be anything really crazy as these are dishes that are in development with the intention of possibly ending up on the menu at some future point.

Guinea Pig Wine - Ancora Sangiovese

Fig & Prosciutto Crostini with Goats Cheese

Prawn and Scallop Skewers with Chilli Butter

Duck Breast with Five Spice, Pak Choi and Spring Onion

Red Mullet with Anchovies, Olives and Tomatoes

Summer Berries Trifle 

Mocha Syllabub with Chocolate Ice Cream and Brownies

The wine was a smooth easy drinking Sangiovese from Puglia, perfectly fine.

The two starters again were good, fig and prosciutto and scallop and prawn both being classic combos, the seafood was cooked to perfection.

The duck main course was amazing, I think the picture demonstrates that the breasts were perfectly cooked and of course duck marries beautifully with oriental flavours, the duck breasts were a generous size too.

The red mullet main was a good concept and would have been fine except the fish was a little over-seasoned, this was not due to the olive and anchovy taking it over the edge. It was the fish itself that had been over-seasoned, a shame really as it was perfectly cooked otherwise.

The desserts were really lovely, the trifle being particularly rich and creamy, I have mentioned before that I don't really eat desserts & due to my recent health issue it would have been unwise of me to eat these desserts so the girlfriend had to eat (most of) both! I did sample both though and as I said lovely, she thought so too :) Interestingly, since I left hospital I seem to desire desserts when I eat out now, I put this down to my diet at home on a day to day basis has become very healthy so the sinful stuff as a treat when eating out seems much more appealing.

We both declined coffee as we were too stuffed to drink one!

In conclusion, I have to say guinea pig night is a great success, the restaurant seems busy on this night and personally I found it a lot of fun. If you don't have a lot of food hang ups then go for it, you'll be well fed and as I said it is just fun not knowing what you're going to get but knowing it is highly likely to be very good food. £25 per person for 3 courses, coffee, half a bottle of wine and a lot of fun is a bargain in my opinion.

Piazza by Anthony
The Corn Exchange
Call Lane

Telephone: 0113 2470995

Twitter: @anthonysltd 

Friday, 20 May 2011

Kendells Bistro

Kendells Bistro is a French inspired bistro in Leeds. I have visited Kendells on several occasions and from the outset will say right away that it is one of the two best city centre restaurants (along with Anthony's on Boar Lane).

The menu is presented on blackboards with the legend "sold out = fresh food" and yes the food is fresh and as the evening progresses you will see "sold out" written next to items on the boards. The menu changes fairly regularly due to the policy albeit with some staples such as their wonderful Gratin Lyonaisse, it also tends to feature more unusual French dishes such as squab pigeon, frogs' legs & even squirrel on occasion.

On our latest visit to Kendells we had:

Gratin Lyonaisse (French Onion Soup)

Foie Gras on Garlic Brioche with Green Bean Salad and Fig Chutney

Salmon and Asparagus

Côte de Boeuf (Rib Eye served with Duck Fat Potatoes and Béarnaise Sauce)

Crème brûlée

The Gratin Lyonaisse served at Kendells Bistro is second to none, the photograph may not look amazing, but the flavour, oh the flavour! I challenge anyone to find a French Onion soup this good outside of France, hell, maybe even inside of France!

The Pan Fried Foie Gras was delicious, perfect... I won't dwell on this as it is so divisive, other than to say if you enjoy it, here it is as good as anywhere.

The Salmon was my partners choice, again cooked brilliantly.

The Rib Eye was cooked beautifully medium rare as requested, a seriously beautiful piece of meat with a Béarnaise that Escoffier would have been proud of.

I don't eat dessert very often and the Crème brûlée was my girlfriends, I tasted it and would agree it was light and beautifully vanilla-y.

Really if you haven't visited Kendells, just go but just consider it might be wise to book in advance as it does get busy especially on a weekend. The food is wonderful, and I haven't even mentioned the atmosphere which is amazing, even slightly hedonistic. It's clear they haven't used a professional designer which gives it an eclectic feel and the owners' personal touch can be seen in all the bits and pieces and decorations, also I love all the funky candles in wine bottles.

A true local, independent restaurant which delivers something truly special (and they never under feed you!)

Kendells Bistro
Saint Peter's Square
Tel: 0113 2436653

Twitter: @KendellsBistro

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Piazza by Anthony

Piazza by Anthony in the historic Leeds Corn Exchange is a venue we visit for lunch on a semi-regular basis, they serve some very well executed dishes at a price that is more than reasonable for the quality of food on offer.

On our latest visit to the Piazza our meal consisted of:

Pancetta and Asparagus with Poached Egg and Hollandaise

Smoked Haddock and Pea Gnocchi

Moules Mariniere served with Bread from the Piazza bakery

The bread and finger bowl that accompanies the moules

A bottle of the house Sauvignon Blanc

Given the time of year I couldn't resist choosing the Asparagus starter and it didn't let me down, beautiful asparagus with a perfectly poached egg, hollandaise and pancetta is such a great combination and this was well executed.

My partner loves Gnocchi and had high praise for the smoked haddock and pea gnocchi served here.

For our mains we both had a large bowl of the moules mariniere, which I have visited Piazza specifically for on previous occasions, it is such a wonderful summery dish. To be quite truthful the intention was to not have starters, just a bowl of moules mariniere each with a bottle of wine to share, which in my mind on a day with some sunshine comes very close to the perfect lunch.

Piazza is fully deserving of it's Bib Gourmand, there is a lack of places serving the level of quality at the price point Piazza offers, one of the highlights of the Leeds dining out scene no doubt at all.

Piazza by Anthony
The Corn Exchange
Call Lane

Telephone: 0113 2470995

Twitter: @anthonysltd

Monday, 9 May 2011

Red Chilli Leeds

Red Chilli is a small chain of 5 Chinese restaurants and is my absolute favourite Chinese restaurant in Leeds.
Red Chilli specialises in Beijing and Sichuan cuisine unlike most Chinese restaurants in Leeds who serve Cantonese food.
The first thing to say about Red Chilli is that their menu is huge, and contains a lot of traditional dishes that you wouldn't find in other Chinese restaurants around these parts. The menu could be quite intimidating to some people, try to not be overwhelmed by the choice though as once you find the dishes that you like this place really is hard to beat!

For our dinner at Red Chilli we had:

A bottle of the house Sauvignon Blanc

3 delicacies hot and sour soup

Vegetarian hot and sour soup

Salt & Pepper stir fried Soft Shell Crab

A portion of fried rice to share

Special Seafood Bird's Nest

The 3 delicacies in the seafood hot and sour soup were scallop, prawn and squid, the soup was delicious and perfectly hot and sour, my dining partner assured me the vegetarian version was very good too.

The salt and pepper soft shell crab is our "go to" dish at Red Chilli, we order it every visit and it is always wonderful.

On the menu the special seafood bird's nest says oysters, prawns, sea cucumber, scallop and squid, our waitress informed us that you choose two of these but they had no sea cucumber available on the day, no problem I asked for oysters and scallops. The dish arrived with oysters, scallops, squid and prawns so I am unsure if the dish actually contains all the seafood and the waitress mis-informed us or if the waitress informed us correctly but she realised we thought it was a selection of all the seafood so asked the kitchen to do it that way. Either way it was a beautiful seafood dish, the bird's nest was made of crispy noodles that were softened by the sauce under the seafood.

A note on the fried rice, Red Chilli's fried rice is the best I have eaten anywhere! Every single time I have had their fried rice it is beautifully fluffy, delicious, and smells like popcorn. It is never, ever stodgy like it can be elsewhere.

Red Chilli is very reasonably priced and as I said at the outset, for me easily the best Chinese restaurant in Leeds.

Red Chilli
6 Great George Street