The best restaurant in Leeds?

Somebody asked me a really good question last night at my leaving do at Kendell’s Bistro.

“Come on then — 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 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 — Salvo’s
  • 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 — Kendell’s Bistro.


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It’s no secret that we’re huge fans 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 (think M&S and their recent “we’ve boobed’ campaign) – 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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Last night was my leaving do –  a fairly low key affair that ended messily in Mojo, at some godforsaken hour, drinking Sambuca. Earlier that evening we all enjoyed a superb meal at Kendell’s, 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 boing the best restaurant in Leeds.

6 thoughts on “The best restaurant in Leeds?

  1. Excellent piece. I hate being asked this question, as it really does change from day to day. Kendalls is amazing, but so are so many other places, for thier own reasons.

  2. Please, please, please support Steve Kendell and his team. He owns one of the best restaurants in Leeds, his passion for food is so apparent in his style of cooking. We have never had a bad mouthful of food there, and have never received poor comments from people we have recommended it to. We have also hosted two large (approx 70 people) Christmas lunches there and each year everyone says “book it again”. Delighting 70 people with different tastes and expectations takes some doing, but he succeeds with ease!

  3. Kendells is very good indeed. Some of the best Duck I have tasted. But Katie’s right, it’s a toughie because it changes depending on mood!! For example, I have a soft spot for Salvo’s – but I don’t think it’s the best. It’s more to do with memories. I think, overall, my ‘go-to’ restaurant is Dos Amigos in Kirkstall. The foods good, but the staff and atmosphere make it so as well! A tough one!

  4. I hear again and again that Kendell’s is the best place to go in Leeds. I’ve got a trip planned for after payday, and I cannot wait! I’m still a big advocate of Pinche Pinche in Chapel Allerton as the best in Leeds – the food is incredible, the atmosphere is friendly and cosy and the service is always impeccable.

    • Hi Amy
      Kendell’s is well worth the wait, you won’t be disappointed! Steve and the team will make you very welcome.
      If you love Pinche Pinche (and I do too) then you will like Cielo Blanco in Trinity. Superb mexican street food.

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