Sqew Leeds review: Here’s what I thought of this popular kebab shop in the city centre
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It belongs to Sqew, a recent arrival in Duncan Street, which boasts flavours that are as loud as its exterior design.
Sqew opened with the aim of bringing authentic shawarma to the UK. Judged on that criteria alone, it succeeds entirely: this bold little venue is serving up Middle Eastern cuisine that far exceeds any I’ve had elsewhere in Leeds.
We visited on an unseasonably balmy Thursday afternoon, a day so warm that one would be forgiven for not immediately understanding the draw of an equally hot kebab shop.
But it was the savoury fragrance drifting down Duncan Street that convinced us we’d found the right spot for a late lunch.
Ordering is done at the counter, à la Subway. There’s chicken and lamb shawarma, exotic sandwiches and wraps, hummus filled bowls, platters with countless ingredients – an overhead menu board seems endless.
Sqew’s fries platter is just £9.50 and includes a main – I went for thick-cut halloumi fries – with chips and a large salad. And within minutes, the vibrantly coloured and generously sized meal is arranged artfully in its box.
The halloumi fries were perfectly crispy on the outside, balancing effortlessly the richness of the cheese with the golden exterior. There were five of them, and they’re huge. More than enough for lunch.
The fries were served alongside and didn’t steal the spotlight from the halloumi, but were similarly warm and comforting.
Surprisingly, the salad was a standout. Mine included tangy and crunchy gherkins, juicy tomatoes and onions seasoned with za’atar. Energising in its freshness, the salad held its own against the crispy and deep fried accompaniments.
The platter also came with a choice of two sauces. I had the fiery chilli sauce and a garlic and za’atar mayonnaise.
The infusion of the fragrant za’atar in the mayonnaise brought a welcome Middle Eastern twist to the dip that complimented the halloumi and chips exceptionally well. And while it’s not for the faint of heart, the chilli sauce added an awakening heat to the platter.
We also enjoyed a mezze platter, designed to evoke Middle Eastern small plates in a box. It came with a Fattoush salad, Lebanese potatoes and vibrant Tabbouleh. On top of that, there was a zingy tomato and cucumber salad, and, again, a choice of a main filling with pickles and two house sauces.
Ordering is made simple by friendly staff – the only downside being that space around the counter is limited and it’s easy to bump into other customers while navigating it. That might deter those seeking a more traditional dine-in experience, but Sqew makes no secret of the fact that it’s more of a casual spot anyway.
I will be back to Sqew. It’s striking flavours and unfussy set-up will make it difficult to avoid. In a way, I’m thankful that I don’t live closer. If I did, I’d be 10 stone heavier in no time.