Leeds is famous for its food scene. Over the past decade, the city has become a place positively popping with amazing, diverse and massively tasty food. Initially a whole swathe of that food was in pop-up form; amazing food in very informal settings. Think Bundobust. Think many of the amazing vendors you run into at Leeds Indie Food, #EatNorth and Chow Down.
But that left a hole in the market. Where did mega-foodies go for that real special occasion? For an anniversary, a birthday, a celebration?
Luckily Leeds saw this gap and stepped up.
Although Leeds is currently only home to one Michelin starred establishment, there a several places we love, where we consider the food to be really up there with the best, nationally.
The Man Behind the Curtain
Leeds’ only Michelin-starred venue (and some have questioned its status, saying it deserves to be a two-starred restaurant), The Man Behind the Curtain is an eccentric, out-there, wacky world of some of the most exciting tastes you’re likely to experience. Think a 14 course, mind-blowing tasting menu including courses like a pink foie gras donut, a completely black “emancipation” cod loin, and even yellowfin tuna with Fisherman’s Friend! Not cheap, but a once-in-a-lifetime Leeds experience.
68-78 Vicar Ln, Leeds, LS1 7JH
Set up by Masterchef’s Elizabeth Cottam and ex-The Box Tree (previously Ilkley’s Michelin-starred establishment) chef Mark Owens, Home is crying out for a Michelin star. Sited unobtrusively at the top of Central Road, just off Briggate, you enter via a slender doorway and head immediately above street level. Home focusses on the seasonal, changing its menu each month to represent the best of local, seasonal provenance. Opt for the ‘The Selection’ 5 dish tasting menu for a quicker, lighter meal, or go the whole hog and treat yourself to the ten course ‘The Season’ menu to really get into what Home does best.
16/17 Kirkgate, Leeds, LS1 6BY
Shears Yard is an amazing venue, where raw brick walls and edison bulbs create a bright and exciting space that serves up some fab food. Their five course taster menu (with a very reasonable £20 drinks pairing) is a regular offering, but you can choose from the Brunch menu (Saturdays only) and the Dinner menu too at respective times, which is a more classic A La Carte set up of starter, main, dessert.
The tasting menu features exciting dishes such as ‘Escabeche of octopus, saffron aioli, parma ham’ and ‘Raspberry marshmallow, peanut butter soil, raspberry sorbet, toasted sesame’, whilst the brunch offers up a ‘Croque Madame’ – smoked bacon brioche sandwich with onion chutney, 60c egg and cheese sauce. Plus you can make it ‘’bottomless’, choosing from their brunch drinks menu. Winner.
11-15 Wharf St, Leeds, LS2 7EH
The Swine That Dines
The evening incarnation of Leeds’ favourite breakfast spot The Greedy Pig (RIP), The Swine That Dines is a tiny venue offering up some of Leeds’ most exciting small plates. Now offering up lunch Wednesday to Saturday, The Swine That Dines offers up small plates from the simple but tasty Nocellara olives to ‘Leek Bhaji, Mint Ketchup, Yoghurt’ and ‘Kid Leg, Haricot Beans, Tropea, Green Sauce’. Expect a small, intimate environment and a fabulous and well-curated menu. Not licensed, but happy to provide you with glassware, The Swine That Dines is the perfect location for a slightly cheaper but extra-special meal (think £50 for two on food, for seven courses).
58 North St, Leeds, LS2 7PN
Matt Healy x Foundry
Matt Healy for The Foundry sees the 2016 Masterchef The Professionals finalist take the helm, delivering a winner of a grazing, sharing menu. Think small plates like ‘Pressa Iberica, Grilled Scallop, Chilli & Coriander’, larger plates like ‘Hake, Raw Tomato Tartare, Pickled Fennel, Lemon Mayonnaise’ and desserts like ‘Nectarine, Rosemary & Mascarpone’. They maximise the use of every ingredient to minimise waste, and choose the best produce available, cooking with care and finesse.
1 Saw Mill St, Leeds, LS11 5WH
Vice & Virtue
This tucked-away ‘Speakeasy’-style venue is serious on its libations…but is just as serious on its food offer. With a ‘Full’, ‘Sampler’ or ‘Seven Course’ tasting menu, you can fit your meal to your appetite (and your wallet). With tastes like ‘Grissini – anchovy, raspberry, beetroot, lardo’ with a suggested pairing of Viced Americano Cocktail or Dom Perignon 2009 Vintage Champagne, and ‘Pig Cheek – XO sauce, dried scallop and shiitake, with a suggested pairings including Neil Joubert Chenin Blanc or a 2006 Châteauneuf Du Pape Blanc, you know your whole meal will be in good hands here.
68 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU
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