Here are the Top 5 restaurants in Leeds, as voted for by our panel of Top 100 judges, taking into account our own review scores and other guidebook scores, plus any rosettes, stars, plates, forks and all that stuff…
3 Book Now Leeds Modern British
New look, same, wild styling from the Michelin-starred, glam rock loving superstar. In 2018, chef-patron Michael O’Hare upped sticks from the Flannels department store attic where he made his name with Man Behind the Curtain and moved into the basement of the same building. His inaugural restaurant enjoyed a £1.1million bespoke fit-out along the way. Think custom designed kitchen, lavish natural materials and robot toilets. Just as the restaurant’s namesake The Wizard of Oz ordered, the interior fittings conspire to create a disorientating atmosphere. The tasting menu could include a miniature bun in a nuclear launch button shade of red, filled with XO-sauced veal pancreas or a lava-ish langoustine tartare, glowing with green parsley oil. Vinegar-packed Iberico pork, garlic and almond enjoys Pollock-esque presentation, while Emancipation – O’Hare’s Great British Menu winning fish dish – is a beacon of white cod surrounded by black. Black crockery, black dashi, and a summit of black vinegar powder. Wines are thrilling – yet the question remains: how do you continue subverting expectations when being subversive is your whole schtick? The new room might take you out of your comfort zone, but O’Hare remains within his, which will continue to please fans and newcomers alike.
12 Book Now Leeds Modern British
Inspired British cooking from Masterchef graduates. Home is the brainchild of Masterchef finalist Liz Cottam, and business partner Mark Owens, formerly head chef at Ilkley’s veteran Michelin star, The Box Tree (also in our Top 100). While Home has only been Home, so to speak, since 2017, this compact British restaurant is already a favourite of national food critics. Follow a trail of tea lights up several floors into a moody room, filled with simple creature comforts. Crisp white table clothes set the scene for five lunchtime or ten evening courses. Dishes could include room-temperature uncooked scallops with hand-made mayo, celeriac carbonara, or a festive take on venison with a tiny, spring roll pasty filled with fruit and nuts on the side. Local cheeses are a thrill, while desserts could include apple sponge with apple crisps and firmly whipped cream. Wines are well priced and imaginative with some particularly strong Spanish and Italian options. A genuine Northern light.
Book Now Leeds European
Local chef Matt Healy had his work cut out taking on this Leeds stalwart– but he’s pulled it off spectacularly. Having excelled on Masterchef The Professionals in 2016, The Foundry his first solo venture and it’s a crowd pleaser of the best kind. Options could include classic steak tartare, baby chicken ‘Kiev’, hake loin with confit fennel and charred clementine puree and crème brulee éclair. Having trained at the likes of London’s Terroirs and with Simon Shaw at the original El Gato Negro in Ripponden, Healy knows the classics and cooks with flair. In terms of décor, a warm grey paint now coats the bar, and soft furnishings add a pop of colour. Xpletives, a mural by local artist Nicolas Dixon adorns a wall by the entrance, alongside modern neon signs. The result is a reliably excellent expereince, paired with lovingly curated wines and beers.
Book Now Leeds Modern British
Adventurous, nose-to-tail (or veggie, or themed) cooking at one of Leeds most promising restaurants. The Swine That Dines is fast become one of the toughest places to get a table in the city. Driven by a passion for extremely high welfare meat – and eating all of the animal – the seven dishes on the set menu (there’s no a la carte) are designed for two people to share, and clock in at around £50 between two. Seeing as it’s BYO too (for now), that’s an excellent deal for all involved. Head Chef is Stuart Myers, a man without borders who combines a background in brasserie cooking with inspiration from kitchens and bookshelves around the world. Ingredients are listed on the menu as collections of ingredients (a la Rogan…. Or any restaurant with Michelin aspirations) and arrive as cohesive combinations, a showreel if you will of processes and techniques boasting the chef’s versatility; cold and warm salads; classic French boudin and gratin; pates and rillettes and croquettes and falafels; pan-fried heart and liver and unpopular fish. Bring a wine with a pedigree as solid as The Swine That Dines – and you could be in for the night of your life.
Book Now Leeds Indian subcontinent
This unassuming Keralan restaurant has charmed everyone from celebrities (Andrew Lincoln, Sanju Samson) to the inspectors of the Michelin, Hardens and Good Food Guides. Cooking tends towards home-style dishes; seasonal Meen Koottan fish curry served with paratha and a rich, chicken Pedappan Kozhi. Sides, snacks and starters are worth visiting time and again. Choose from lentil doughnuts, roast eggs, idli with sambar and devoted dosas and bread menus. The décor is undeniably Brit curry house – black leather chairs, bright lights – yet the look is warmed by wood panelling and vintage Indian prints. The wine list contains a few surprises too. A Sicilian rose, for example, Alsace whites and a clutch of sparklers. A regular entry on the UK’s ‘best curry’ lists, booking is essential at this hidden gem turned national treasure.