The best restaurant in Leeds

The following post is an updated version of a post that first appeared on Globetroffers – a foodie site I used to contribute to. I was minded to re-post it here after a particularly good meal at the weekend.

It’s interesting to read this again after a couple of years has passed and what’s significant for me is that I don’t think the restaurant scene in the city has changed much. That could be a result of these straightened times with people naturally cautious with their hard earned cash or it could be a lack of investment in the city holding people back…anyway, I’ve only had to update a few of the ‘Best Ofs’ – see if you agree.

So – which is the best restaurant in Leeds?

Now I have to say that I found answering the question definitively very difficult. It’s not that we’re overly blessed with amazing restaurants on every street corner. Far from it. It’s just that depending what mood your in dictates which restaurant is number one at any given point.

I started thinking aloud and it kicked off a huge discussion, as you’d expect. I’ve given it further thought and for what it’s worth started to put together a sort of ‘best of’ in the city, depending upon what you want and how you’re feeling.

I’d be interested to know what other people think as it’s by no means definitive and I’ve probably omitted some of the best places, but I’m sure you’ll let me know.

  • The best for impressing a lover, partner, foodie or out of towner that thinks Leeds is full of ignorant yokels — Anthony’s Boar Lane
  • The best wow factor in a dining room, where a cool and glamorous experience is desired — Anthony’s Piazza
  • The best for consistently excellent service, food quality, conspicuous consumption with fashionista appeal and verve — Harvey Nichols
  • The best steaks (albeit at eye watering prices) – Gaucho
  • The best indian food in Leeds — Aagrah
  • The best bustling dining room, for the noisy and boisterous, fur coat and no knickers crowd — City Bar and Grill
  • The best fish restaurant — Livebait
  • The best breakfast in Leeds — Harvey Nichols (this has been scientifically proven by me)
  • The best italian food in Leeds — San Carlo (Leeds City Centre branch)
  • The best local ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant — Diva Italiana, Pudsey

See what I mean? I could go on. All of the above restaurants are the best at any given point in time, and I think the best restaurant in some ways has to be an amalgamation of all of the above.

Now I’m going to stick my neck out. There’s a restaurant in Leeds that sticks to what it does best and concentrates on doing it incredibly well.

They’ve been beavering away, quietly serving in-the-know foodsters lovingly created food for the past few years, building a reputation as one of the best places to eat in the city. I’ll get to the point, and here it is:

The best all round restaurant in Leeds — (is still) Kendell’s Bistro.


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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Steve Kendell’s cooking and his passion and determination to create stylish, unpretentious, authentic bistro food that in some ways flies in the face of fashion. This is a real feel-good restaurant. I’ve never come out of there feeling bad about anything. Like anything or anybody, it’s not perfect. When I think back to when we dined at Angela Hartnett’s in Mayfair last year, it was a glorious thing of perfection to behold. The closest to restaurant perfection I’ve ever experienced.

But we’re a funny lot aren’t we? I’ve noticed with brands we love, we’re prepared to let them get things wrong now and again – and I think it’s the same with restaurants. We become loyal and align ourselves with what they are trying to do and it actually becomes part of our own personal brand and we in turn become evangelists. This has been the case with Kendell’s – I’m forever recommending the place to all and sundry, safe in the knowledge that whoever I tell will be safe in the hands of Steve’s team.

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Note – This review was written two years ago and it’s all still true and that in itself is testament to the quality and passion of the team at Kendell’s. On Saturday we enjoyed a superb meal, the service was excellent, the food delicious and the whole experience was simply the best we could have had. This is a restaurant with heart and it cares about it’s customers and it’s food. Get those right and you’re well on the way to being the best restaurant in Leeds.

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3 thoughts on “The best restaurant in Leeds

  1. For me: best French food – Sous Le Nez, best tapas – Sandanista, best Italian – Bibis (the service in San Carlo is always absolutely awful, but it has lovely decor and a great menu), best Thai – Chaophraya, best Japanese – Little Tokyo.
    Looking at best restaurants in general – I’ve got to agree with Anthony’s and Harvey Nichols, they’re always consistently excellent. Have you been to Dough?

  2. Not been to Sous le Nez for years so that has to worth a re-visit, not had tapas at Sandinista but hear good things. Haven’t been back to Bibi’s for years after a disastrous meal there! Love Chaophraya and Little Tokyo I like but Teppanyaki is in a different league (although Fuji Hiro is amazing for the price).

    Not been to Dough – but hear very good things about it…is it worth a visit?

  3. I’ve not yet been to Teppanyaki so you’ve inspired me to check it out! Yes, Dough is absolutely fantastic. Luke’s whole approach to food is amazing, everything is sourced locally, lovingly and his menus are innovative too. It’s a nice intimate little place to eat. Love it.

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