Restaurant review: Kendells Bistro, St Peter’s Square, Leeds city centre

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All things quintessentially French are still in vogue in Leeds.

The city continues to bask in the yellow glow of the Tour de France which saw thousands of cyclists whizz through the streets of Leeds.

So it only felt right for Oliver to pay a visit to one of the city’s finest French institutions nestled in the heart of Leeds’s arts quarter.

Given the level of creativity and innovation shown by Leeds to host the grandest of Grand Departs, it felt apt to visit Kendells Bistro.

The restaurant, which is opposite the BBC building and Leeds College of Music, is just a stone’s throw away from the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Northern Ballet’s headquarters.

It is easy to forget that you are close to the city’s bustling bus station and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you were whisked away to the south of France.

And the brains behind the bistro certainly know how to put on their very own grand show.

It is hardly a surprise that they were triumphant at the prestigious Oliver Awards after scooping the prize for Outstanding Contribution to the city’s dining scene.

The judges commented on the venue’s “amazing atmosphere, outstanding food, good value and a warmth of welcome that is a pleasure to experience.”

With its subtle low lighting, wine bottle-mounted candles and stunning wall art the restaurant decor is certainly a feast for the eyes.

Adorned on the walls were a variety of musical instruments including a violin and a saxophone.

And it is also incredibly romantic - that was evident from the sheer number of couples of who chose to dine on a busy Saturday evening under the glow of candlelight.

We decided to book in advance of our visit and we were glad we did because the restaurant was packed on the Saturday evening when we visited.

The attention to detail from the staff was second to none on our arrival.

So much so that they offered to take our soaking wet umbrella and store it safely while we enjoyed our meal.

And it is the little touches like this that make Kendells so special.

We were given the choice of two tables but we opted for one near the kitchen so we could catch a sneaky glimpse of the chefs in action.

There are no individual food menus at the restaurant and instead all the options were printed on a blackboard for all to see.

The starter selection was mouthwatering – but unfortunately for Oliver my poor dining partner had to read them off the blackboard because I left my glasses at home.

They included a selection of muscles, a smooth duck liver pate and French onion soup.

Our waitress even offered to take a photograph of the board on our mobile phones but Oliver had already made his choice.

I opted for the king scallops which came served with two strips of crispy bacon with a cauliflower puree.

The king scallops were perfectly cooked and the bacon added a nice crisp texture to the dish.

The cauliflower puree was perfectly seasoned and in an unusual twist I managed to finish my starter before my carnivorous companion.

My dining partner opted for the roasted bone marrow which came with shallots and a lemon and wild garlic vinaigrette.

The dish was served with some crusty toasted bread and within minutes my dining partner had devoured the whole starter.

I could tell by the smile on his face when he first tucked into the marrow that he was certainly pleased with his choice.

The selection of main courses to choose from left my dining partner well and truly spoilt for choice.

So much so that we had to tell the waiter to leave him to ponder for an extra 10 minutes.

There was boeuf bourguignon, a loin of venison and the calves liver.

There were also a selection of fish dishes

At one point Oliver almost felt like flipping a coin just to hurry his dining partner along with his selection.

For mains I opted for the strangely sounding onglet which was a hanging steak served with mushrooms, red wine, garlic and bacon.

The dish also came with a small piece of bone marrow, which left my dining partner looking in despair as I savoured every last bite.

The steak, which was cooked to perfection, came with a side serving of chips but in all honesty it could have done without them.

My dining partner opted for the confit of preserved duck which came with smoked sausage and dauphinoise potatoes and green beans with bacon.

He soon devoured the dish and commented on the succulence of the duck - however he wasn’t a big fan of the smoked sausage which he claimed was slightly overpowering.

By the time we made it to desserts my dining companion was erring on the full side.

But the sweet selection left Oliver desperately trying to find space to fill in an extra portion.

They included a creme brulee and French staple macaroons but Oliver just couldn’t resist a petit pot au chocolat to finish off his meal.

The rich pudding was a delight and so much so that my dining partner forgot about their full stomach and tucked in.

Overall our bill came to just over £80 including a bottle of Costieres De Nimes to share.

The fabuleux French bistro has left Oliver desperately hoping the yellow glow of the Grand Depart continues to boost the city.

But even when the Tour de France fever ends there will always be a little taste of the continent tucked away in Leeds. Encore.


Address: 3 St Peter’s Square, Leeds LS9 8AH.

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 5pm until late.

Tel: 0113 2436553


Star rating

Food ****

Value ****

Atmosphere *****

Service *****

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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