Graduate Dining: Kendells Bistro
Kendells Bistro is one of those fantastic Leeds treats that you may not discover until late in your degree, when you are bored of the constant Pizza Express meals for special occasions and want to try something different. Unique to the city, it is somewhere not to be missed. If you haven’t visited yet, a graduation dinner is the ideal way to round off your three years. Victoria Gray samples the delights…
French style dining is done to perfection at Kendells Bistro. The restaurant’s location on St Peter’s Square, tucked away amongst the huge BBC Yorkshire building and Leeds College of Music, makes it almost the definition of a hidden gem. Walking in to an unassuming door, you are greeted by a glorious room of fairy light decorated walls, candles in wine bottles and mismatching chairs. Although this very easily could be kitsch, it is in fact utterly charming. Kendells prides itself on its modest style and lack of pretence, and the setting itself achieves that, while also making you feel that you are somewhere special, and at times almost forgetting that you’re in the heart of Leeds.
you forget that you’re in the heart of Leeds
While the French style of the bistro is apparent from its atmosphere, the food confirms this. Upon arriving at your table, you are given a basket of French bread, which is accompanied by typically French unsalted butter, highlighting the authenticity of the restaurant, which is furthered by its huge number of delicious French dishes.
The menus change daily based on availability of ingredients and are hosted on huge blackboards occupying the largest wall of the restaurant. There is huge variety on the main set menu, which runs between 5.30 and 8 o’clock Tuesday to Thursday, and between 5.30 to 7 o’clock Fridays and Saturdays. You have a choice of either two courses for £16.95 per person, three courses for £18.95 per person or three courses and half a bottle of house wine for £24.95 per person, which we opted for. Kendells stick to screw top bottles of wine, again offering a traditional charm that makes the restaurant such a treat to go to.
Starters are where the artistry of French cooking are shown, ranging from pâtes to more inventive dishes such as the Oeufs en Meurette – poached eggs in a red wine sauce. We chose Gratin Lyonnais, or French onion soup to the non linguists, and tuna Niçoise salad, both of which were generously packed with ingredients and bursting with flavour. The onion soup was literally covered in delicious gruyere and could almost have been given an option to be a main course for a less hungry patron, while the salad was far more than a light option with tuna, eggs, anchovies and capers amongst its ingredients.
Moving to the plats principal, choice was again difficult, with a fantastic assortment of fish, poultry and meat dishes available cooked in unique. We ate confit du canard – duck cooked with smoked sausages, served on lightly roasted potatoes – and porc boulangere – roast pork belly served with roasted vegetables. Both were infused with flavour, but tender and delicately cooked, with each part of the dish complimenting the rest, and by the time we had finished, we were slightly overwhelmed and when offered a rest between the main course and dessert, we took it.
Dessert, a course often skipped due to lack of care and effort taken in restaurants, was instead the cherry on top of a fantastic meal. Choosing crème brulee and île flotante, a meringue dish served floating on a vanilla creamy custard, topped with caramelised sugar and almonds, we were slightly apprehensive about consuming more courses, but should have taken the hint from the sophistication and flair of the previous dishes. Both were light, delicate and not overly sweet, but a delicious way to conclude the meal.
Overall, I cannot recommend Kendells enough
Overall, I cannot recommend Kendells enough. The combination of the gorgeous atmosphere, delicious food and friendly staff makes for a perfect evening. It is no surprise that this enchanting little restaurant has been awarded several Best Restaurant in Leeds awards from various prestigious bodies.
Kendells Bistro is open evenings Tuesday – Saturday and the set menus run from 5.30pm until 8pm Tuesday-Thursday and until 7pm Friday and Saturday. Booking is usually required although a number of tables may be available on the night.