The Reliance on North Street is aptly named, for it truly is a bastion of reliability.
It has been in situ for more than two decades, during which time it has cemented its reputation as one of the most capable, not to mention enjoyable and constantly inventive destinations in the city.
Given it sits well off the main drag, so to speak, the fact it has thrived as it has only serves to bolster its already well deserved reputation - it is no stranger to garnering gushing reviews in the national press. Indeed, even though it lies just beyond the bounds of the inner ring road - it is surrounded with sundry other quality venues, such as The Brunswick (reviewed in this column just a few weeks ago), BrewDog, Hansa’s Gujarati and The Swine That Dines - it’s clearly a venue people don’t mind making a detour for.
And here’s the reason why: the food and drink is something else. From the outside, its demure burnt red exterior and tall floor to ceiling windows chime with the architectural grandeur of the building it occupies. One could imagine, had it been around a hundred years ago, it might have looked just the same. Inside, it’s more rustic - deliberately so - with plane wooden floors and tables, while the walls reaching up to the yawning space beneath the ceiling are bedecked with blackboards listing an almost incomparable number of ales, bottled lagers, wines and food. The menu changes regularly here, specials boards constantly updated.
I begin with anchovies in a sharp, slightly sweet lemon and chili marinade, an absolute bargain at £3.50, followed by black pudding salad, which comes with a glorious slice of the black stuff, as succulent and indulgent as you like - it’s accompanied by delicate little roast potatoes, purple potatoes, crunchy lettuce and a poached egg, the yolk of which just nits the whole thing together into one glorious experience. I could name numerous other restaurants in Leeds which would charge double figures for this dish but here it’s a steal at £7.95. All of this was washed down with a glass of house red (£4.75), a nice light, fragrant number I completely failed to get the name of.
Service is excellent: confident, assured, polite without being intrusive or overly formal, as befits the setting.
The Reliance really does shine a light for Leeds, perhaps more so than some other more well known restaurants. Here you can find charcuterie boards overflowing with choice, Shetland mussels, Erdinger battered haddock and twice cooked chips.
It’s a stone’s throw from Leeds Grand and has a very decent pre-theatre menu, all of which barely scratches the surface of what has to be one of the best bar/restaurants this city has to offer.
The Reliance, 76-78 North St, Leeds, LS2 7PN