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Leeds recommendations?

We're heading off for a weekend in the Yorkshire dales, with a stop in Leeds on the way. Any recommendations for a nice dinner in Leeds? Any budget/ ambience welcome -- we're happy to go high for something we're not likely to find done as well or as uniquely in London (where we're from), as this is our first visit here.

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  1. Hi tavegyl,

    I have spent a lot of time in that area and while there are several lovely restaurants in Leeds if you are looking for something different then I reccomend traveling a little further to Bradford for a curry, they say Bradford is the curry capital! Mumtaz (www.mumtaz.co.uk) being one of the more significant offerings and in fact they do have a restaurant in Leeds now as well but personally I would reccomend making the trip to Bradford for true authenticity (short of traveling to a foreign country anyway).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Big_Jon

      Thanks, Big Jon, I should say, we're only in Leeds for one night, and were planning to explore the town itself, so would prefer recommendations there. Is the Mumtaz in Leeds any good? Is it Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi? I'm from Pakistan myself, and certainly wouldn't mind an authentic taste of home.

    2. A friend once recommended Anthony's Restaurant on Boar Lane, but I haven't been. It does get high marks in the Good Food Guide. I think he also has another place called Anthony's Piazza.

      3 Replies
      1. re: zuriga1

        I had a meal at Anthiony's a few years ago and was deeply underwhelmed by the food, the service and an empty restaurant; I left feeling disappointed, irritated and fleeced.

        Toward the end of last year, a friend ate there and was equally disappointed.

        There was no part of the experience that gave me any understanding of why some people write such favourable reviews.

        1. re: TLC_Tim

          I've only been to Anthony's restaurant once and I enjoyed the experience. Definitely the best high end option in Leeds. Anthony's piazza is also decent for more casual dining, and is in an amazing building (the Corn Exchange).

          In response to the OP's query about finding anything unique or done better than in London, you probably won't. The only thing I can think of is fish & chips, but I'm not sure if there is a great chippy in the city centre though.

          A few good options would be:

          Kendells Bistro - French
          Mumtaz - Kashmiri (I think the food at the Leeds branch is just as good as Bradford)
          Akbars - Indian (good but I think Mumtaz shades it. Akbars is in a more central location though)
          The Cross Keys - Gastropub
          Red Chilli - Szechuan/Chinese

          1. re: NorthernFood

            There is good fish and chips in Leeds but it comes with the ambience - its Kirkgate Fisheries at the back of the market. There is no seating so you have to sit outside. Do not sit immediately outside otherwise you will smell of dripping - preferred seating is on the car park railing across the street.

            Wouldn't go to Anthony's proper if you're up from London. It's 'good for Leeds'. All the other top end places closed in the GFC.

            What I would suggest is play to its strengths. Go on a pub crawl - the Victoria under the Town Hall, and Whitelocks near M&S (the first place in Leeds to get gas lighting) are both classic pubs. There is also an Akbars in that part of town. Red Chilli is my #1 eating spot in Leeds and is also near the Town Hall.

      2. There is a restaurant called Chaophraya I think there is one in Manchester and another in Leeds. Never been to the one on Leeds but the food is amazing. They employ chefs brought over from bangkok and it is subsidised by the thai government so you are getting the best food experience. Its not expensive either its a full dining experience you will most liekely need to book.

        4 Replies
        1. re: dryrain

          I thought Chaophraya in Leeds was rubbish. Overpriced and very muted, toned down flavours. I only went once though, so perhaps I caught them on a bad day.

          1. re: NorthernFood

            I'm with NorthernFood on this one, when I went it was distinctly average - though Thai food outside London is, almost without exception, poor (I don't think Leeds has a large Thai population). That said, I suspect a lot of it is dumbing down for mass market tastes, and Red Chilli is equally guilty if you go for the set menu.

            I have been to a thai up near the Infirmary on the corner, it was OK but nothing special.

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              I agree - there is a branch in Liverpool too. The menu has a few different dishes on it compared to the usual offerings in these parts, but while the food wasn't bad, it isn't that good. It feels very corporate and it's also very loud! As there are a few Thai places in London doing much better food, I wouldn't recommend it.

              1. re: Theresa

                Not sure about red chilli in other places but the one on Portland street Manchester is good. Not a place to sit and chat though eat your food and leave they do not like you hanging around. I never go for set menus better to choose what you want. I go with my Chinese friends and they rate very highly. I find most Chinese restaurants adapt for western tastes but this one does not.

                As for the thai food it does vary a lot across England. I would recommend getting David Thompson's Thai Food book and cooking at home. Takes some hunting for some ingredients but its worth it.

        2. Thanks for all the recommendations. Unfortunately, limited time and our weekend schedule meant we couldn't take up some of the most interesting tips. We also decided to avoid South Asian food -- being from the region myself, I get very grumpy if it's not well done, so chose not to risk it this time.

          We went to Anthony's in the Piazza for dinner -- located in a beautiful space, though the restaurant itself had a factory air to it. My husband had a starter of black pudding with a poached egg and on a fresh leaf salad with a mustard vinaigrette. He followed with a tuna nicoise and I had a chicken kiev (not enough butter to overcome the dryness of the chicken breast). The tuna was probably the best dish: a very well cooked piece of fish, moist and flavoursome. The grilled asparagus we had as a side was also excellent, nicely charred and beautifully seasoned.

          We also took a couple of things to take away: two doughnuts (coffee and caramel) and two muffins (blueberry and sticky toffee -- the latter had won a Great Taste award). Unfortunately, they seem to keep baked items overnight; one each of the cakes was noticeably fresher, and on our way out we noticed the trays of muffins kept in a closed glass case, apparently for the next day. Good toffee and rich date flavour to the sticky toffee muffin, though a little too sweet for my taste. I would have liked the contrast you get from the cream or ice cream normally accompanying sticky toffee pudding; here, perhaps a sharp counterpoint would have have been nice. If I returned, I would ask the staff which cakes were freshly baked.

          The next day, we went to the Arts Cafe for a quick lunch before catching our train back to London. I gather this is a long-standing Leeds institution: a casual cafe/ bar on Call Lane. The starter was salmon marinated in ginger and coriander. Very good fish, with excellent use of the coriander to lift up the other flavours, but could have done with more ginger and sharpness. The winner by far was a pea and feta spring roll main served with a sour cream dip. Very fresh, light and good flavour of peas, with the feta providing contrast. It was just the thing for a hot, sunny afternoon after a long walk by the canal.

          Our stop in Leeds was on our way back to London from the very beautiful area around Malham. We stayed at the Lister Arms -- the less said about our room the better, but meals were solid and well cooked fare, served in obscenely large portions. Excellent fat chips, decent battered fish, adequate steak, very good local goat's cheese served in a salad. The cooked breakfast was also immense and almost exclusively flesh based -- Whitby kippers, a huge English breakfast with decent local sausages, etc, but packaged yoghurts and cereals. Not a pork eater myself, I stuck to boiled eggs with soldiers.

          An afternoon was also spent in Skipton, where we had the fish and chips at Bizzie Lizzie's, apparently a very well known chippie. The chips were adequate, but the fish was superb. A delicious, well seasoned batter, very light and lacy; a firm, perfectly cooked and extremely fresh, flavoursome haddock inside. The best meal of the holiday, and eaten sitting on a sunny bench overlooking the canal running by. Though very fond of f&c I wouldn't consider myself an expert. This was, however, the best chip shop style fish and chips I've had (the best posh version being in Thurso.)

          1. Has anyone eaten at James Martins restaurant in Leeds? What is it like?