Ambiente Tapas Restaurant & Sherry Bar
Ambiente Tapas Restaurant & Sherry Bar is an authentic tapas restaurant overlooking the river Aire. Situated in the historic Calls Landing building, the décor of the former warehouse retains the industrial steelwork, bare floors, and exposed brick work. Choosing between the array of tapas dishes can be a challenge, so the attentive and friendly staff are on hand to give recommendations. Amongst the plethora of tempting options, the chuleta de cerdo comes highly recommended – a pork chop stuffed with pine nuts and sherry-infused raisins sitting, on a slow cooked bean stew. The dishes are washed down with the wide range of Andalusia sherries, riojas and tempranillos. With great food at more than reasonable prices, booking is advised, as the venue often fills to capacity.
The Man Behind The Curtain
The Man Behind the Curtain is a decidedly left-of-field, fine dining restaurant in the heart of Leeds city centre. Run by ex-Noma chef Michael O’Hare, the venue tries to distance itself from the rigidity, snobbery and prestige of fine dining restaurants, and instead offers an exquisite culinary adventure. The background to O’Hare’s dishes is hard to determine, described by the chef as ‘not restricted by geography or trends (no copycat Nordic cuisine or earthenware plates here)’. The décor, unpretentious and minimalist, is brought alive by the vibrancy of the colourful dishes. The tasting menu offers an insight into the genius behind the dishes, from the Ox cheek, salt and vinegar wild rice, and fish from the neighbouring Kirkgate Market, to the vanilla-tobacco ice pops, and the lavender and caraway chocolates.
The Man Behind the Curtain, 68-78 Vicar Lane, Leeds, UK, +44 1132432376
When the Trinity Leeds shopping centre opened in 2013, it brought with it a wealth of eateries and shops. On the fifth floor you can find the award-winning Crafthouse, which stands above the rest. Whilst enjoying the delicious menu and the vast array of accompanying wines, diners can also revel in the splendour of the amazing views across the city. Dishes include Bridlington crab, and lamb from the Yorkshire Moors, but among these locally sourced delicacies is also the Staal Smokehouse smoked salmon, with potato pancakes, crème fraîche and red herring roe, which comes highly recommended. Crafthouse also houses a charcoal Josper oven, which provides a unique technique in the preparation of meat and fish, chargrilling at 480 degrees.
Crafthouse, Level 5 Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Ln, Leeds, UK, +44 113 897 0444
Boss Burgers is set in the unassuming Hyde Park area. Standing out proudly from the plethora of greasy takeaways frequented by the large student population in the area, this burger joint is something of a godsend when it comes to great burgers. Their ethos is to only use fresh, honest food with an ethical provenance, and only the finest select cuts from Yorkshire grass-fed cattle make up the patties, which are minced and crafted in-house. The menu is simple, only having six beef, chicken and veggie burgers on it – and one of the best is the Smokeback Mountain, consisting of a beef patty, smoked back bacon, Yorkshire cheddar, lettuce, smoked BBQ sauce and homemade Boss mayo. Customers can rest assured that they’re eating the tastiest, most ethical local burgers in Leeds.
Boss Burgers, 75 Brudenell Grove, Leeds, UK, +44 113 274 0072
Gaucho aims to offer ‘a new perspective on Argentine life’, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Situated in the heart of the city, the front of the intimate hideaway venue is unassuming, but that shouldn’t cloud your judgement. Inside, the modern aesthetics and hospitality is married with authentic Argentine culture and cuisine. Gaucho’s excellent service is matched by its decadent and indulgent food and fine wine, which won it the Open Table Diners’ Choice Award. The beef, all of which comes from Argentina, is unparalleled, using only carefully selected farms with cattle feeding off the rich Pampas lowlands. On the autumn menu, the entraña fina, a succulent marbled skirt, marinated in ají molido, smoked garlic, parsley and olive oil, and comes highly recommended. There are also Argentinian wines to accompany the succulent beef.
Gaucho, 21-22 Park Row, Leeds, UK, +44 113 246 1777
Housed in Leeds’ banking and business district on Park Row, The Decanter offers a tempting selection of meat and cheese boards, fine wines, tasty cocktails and a selection of craft beers. The décor resembles that of a traditional American bar, complete with exposed-brick walls, glimmering beer taps, comfy dark leather seats and highly polished mahogany tables, making it an ideal setting for a romantic date or for the after-work crowd alike. Amongst the wines, the weight and balance of the Cotes du Crow’s, with notes of dried cherry, pear and blackberry, makes it a perfect pairing with the meat and cheese boards. For something more local, the Yorkshire pork pie board is a delicious treat, washed down with the American-style Camden Pale Ale.
On the edge of the city centre, The Reliance cooks up modern British dishes in a friendly and informal atmosphere. As well as its wide selection of craft ales, the dishes include Yorkshire pork sausages, Erdinger-battered haddock and spatchcocked poussin. The in-house charcuterie uses only the best, locally sourced rare-breed pork from the Taste Tradition in North Yorkshire, which is cured in the restaurant itself. A firm favourite on the menu is the succulent whole Yorkshire pigeon, which is served on dolce latte bread pudding with a pomegranate jus.
The Reliance, 76-78 North St, Leeds, UK, +44 113 295 6060
Since opening in 1986, Hansa’s has rightly affirmed itself as one of the best Indian restaurants in Leeds. With a range of accolades and rave reviews, it is renowned for its clever Gujarati vegetarian cooking. The Gujurati dishes combine intense flavours, strong spices and fresh ingredients, giving Hansa’s its reputation, which has even resulted in a cookery school and a cookbook. The house favourite, Hansa’s Delight, consists of a whole tomato stuffed with the restaurant’s own spicy paneer mixture, covered with batter, then deep-fried until golden brown. Mixing culinary skill and affable hospitality, this classic eatery is a must-try for all Indian foodies, vegetarian or not.
Hansa’s, 72-74 North St, Leeds, UK, +44 113 244 4408
Just Grand! Vintage Tearoom
Just Grand! Vintage Tearoom is housed in the Victorian Grand Arcade in Leeds’ northern quarter. The décor, and the food for that matter, celebrate everything great about British culture. Expect a tantalising assortment of loose-leaf teas, scones and tea cakes, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, and homemade soups. The Just Grand! Afternoon Tea, also known as the full works, includes unlimited Yorkshire tea or coffee and three courses, all beautifully served on a vintage china tiered cake stand. Though the cakes and teas are tempting, the café’s atmosphere pays homage to bygone days, with flowers, pastel colours and vintage bric-à-brac adorning every available space.
Vavasour at Hazlewood Castle
Something of a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Leeds city centre, this restaurant, 15 miles away from Leeds, in Tadcaster, is housed in a former monastery, surrounded by 77 acres of woodland. The grandiose Vavasour, housed in the opulent Hazlewood Castle, is named after the family estate that has owned the castle since the Norman times. As well as offering a wide selection on the lunch menu, the dinner menu includes favourites such as the slow-braised pork belly served with Braeburn apple and lemon stuffing, thyme fondant potato, swede purée and walnut and pork-scratching crumb. The venue also offers an insight into the culinary genius of the restaurant, running popular cookery master classes throughout the year.