Yes, you’re right, this place used to be Kobe. It changed in November and I’m not entirely sure why, although I am sure there is some well-founded business reason for it.
One (very trivial) advantage I came up with is that they can now use consonant alliteration for the Banyan Burger but I’ll bet money against this being the reason (and I’ll eat my hat if it is).
So, while Kobe always sounded vaguely oriental, with a whiff of disciplined tradition, Banyan sounds like it belongs on a beach in Thailand. And you know what, that’s kind of what it feels like when you’re sat in the outside area to the side of the main indoor area. It makes for a good people watching vantage point of the high street with its varied collection of shoppes. I say ‘shoppes’, because notwithstanding the fact Horsforth somehow manages to have TWO main shopping streets, (t’other a good half mile away) it’s also verging on the nostalgic, what with all the independents still making a living here. So, yes, there’s a Costa and a Tesco Express and other big names dotted here and there but there’s also a higher than average representation of indy traders. And don’t forget the golden postbox dedicated to Alistair Brownlee’s 2012 gold medal. Staring out over all that, you can almost imagine that just beyond the row of pebble-dashed shoppes, is the sea. ‘Almost’ being the operative word but still...
Kobe was always good, so has its reincarnation as Banyan changed it? Well, yes and no. The food we had was excellent. We ordered flatbreads and hummus/baba ganoush (I love all the different ways restaurants spell humous, don’t you?) for £6.99, a large sharing plate, which went down a storm. There was also kids fish n’ chips (£5.50), perfectly presented and just the right amount, kids cheeseburger (£5.50), ditto, and onto my main, luxury fish pie. At £15.50 I thought it was a bit steep but it turned out it was well worth it, comprising no lack of fish and a really fresh parsley sauce that brought the whole thing together. I’d eat this in an instant any day of the week. My partner went for tagliatelle arabiata (£11.50), which passed muster. There was also house fries - very good actually, a cut above your average and indicative of the attention they pay to detail - £3.25. To finish, there was a kids sundae (£3.90), bringing the bill to £52.10 for the four of us. Possibly, the veranda outside could do with a vine growing up it but this is purely an aesthetic observation.
Service is attentive and yet the whole place has a relaxed feel about it. So, while you won’t necessarily get anything new here, I think the food has certainly improved and the atmosphere is as good as it ever was.