It’s fair to say out of the whole of the UK, Leeds is my favourite city. It’s absolutely bustling right now with great little independent bars and eateries, and it was only when I moved back after living in London did I appreciate how fab it actually was. They’ve invested so much into the city, especially with the opening of the Trinity shopping development and are starting to give certain areas some much-needed regeneration.
With that said, I wanted to try some new restaurants that have opened to let Leeds dwellers, or even visitors to the city, know what I think. First up we have…
Pieminister – 15-17 Duncan Street, LS1
For those who are familiar with the city, Pieminister is located where the old Oxfam shop was, just off Boar Lane. It’s now a restaurant and bar dedicated to, you guessed it…pies. And not just any ordinary pies. These were delicious homemade gourmet pies.
Pieminister itself originated from Bristol and now has branches all over the UK, including London and Manchester. The whole style of Pieminister is British but with a real New York flair. Think exposed brickwork, parquet flooring, industrial styling fittings and furnishing.
I visited Pieminister on a rainy Sunday afternoon and we were quickly shown to a little booth on the ground floor. There is an upstairs but that’s primarily where the drinking takes place. It was busy but not rammed and, although it’s fairly small inside, you don’t feel like you’re on top of one another.
I ordered the classic Moo pie, which was steak and ale with a jug of rich thick gravy and sweet potato fries, while my friend Hollie decided to go with the Moo Blue, which had the added taste of some Stilton thrown in there. It was delicious and the perfect hangover cure on a weekend. Prices are what you’d expect for a gourmet pie shop, and with two drinks each and the mains it came to just less than £14 each. The perfect place for a catch up with friends.
The Alchemist Greek Street- Yorkshire House, Greek Street, LS1
Greek Street used to be one of the most popular areas in Leeds to drink and eat on an evening. Then the recession hit and one by one, the buildings became empty until the street was deserted. It was one of the first real obvious signs that the city, and the people who lived in it, were struggling. But as more and more money was invested back into Leeds, new areas popped up and restaurants came from outside the city looking for cheap rates. The Alchemist already has a really popular spot in the Trinity Shopping Centre, but the fact that they have opened a second location just up the road really shows how the city is growing.
With such an impressive entrance, I was excited to get inside and see what the restaurant had to offer. I’ve only ever had drinks at The Alchemist before, so I knew I was in for a treat where the cocktails were concerned. We were shown to our window seat and I started to take note of the interior – as always. I loved the pharmaceutical bottles lining the tops of the walls, with the mixture of metals and textures such as quilted leather and Victorian tiles.
Our waitress Anna was helpful from the get-go, giving us a rundown of her favourite cocktails before offering us some options when I said I liked it fruity. We settled on a Strawberry Cup each, which is a mix of Ketel One, strawberry liqueur, fresh strawberries,
mint, lemon juice and sugar topped with ginger ale. It was gorgeous but I was driving so could only enjoy the one.
Next up, we ordered our food (which was out in less than 10 minutes I might like to add – sometimes slightly worrying in my opinion). I went for steak and frites, with a peppercorn sauce, while my friend Dawn ordered the classic fish & chips. They were both nicely presented, but I’d definitely say for the money it could have had more vegetables on the side of mine. The steak was cooked to perfection, and even though we were both stuffed, we decided to sample to dessert menu. If I had to pick my favourite part of the meal, it would have to be my cinnamon waffle and ice cream. I’d come to this place just for that again.
Overall a really nice environment, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful or informative – these guys know there stuff – and I’ve already been back since. The ideal place for a first date I’d say.
Bills – 1 Albion Street, LS1
Finally we have Bills, which opened on Albion Street in September of this year. Although Bills itself is a chain, it really doesn’t feel like that when you walk into its newest location – the old Leeds Law Society building. Offering a comprehensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, I decided to take my sister and brother-in-law out for a much needed treat, while mum and dad babysat my baby niece, Matilda.
We were sat in the corner by two huge windows, and despite it being a Tuesday evening, the place still had a real buzz about it, with a mixture of couples, larger gatherings and families enjoying some wholesome food. Gareth came over to get our drinks order and took care of us the entire night. I really do have to give a shout of to him, because he was the perfect measure of attentive, whilst giving us enough space to enjoy our meals. He also ran after us down the street as we left to give me brother-in-law his phone back which he’d left on the table.
We decided to make the most of our evening and went the whole hog, starting with a mezze sharing platter, with added koftas, and chicken in a jar for me, which was chicken liver pate and toasted ciabatta. I loved how it was so rustically presented (is that even a word?), and it’s definitely given me some ideas of how to present the pate I’m making for my Boxing Day extravaganza. The sharing platter came with olives, sunblushed tomatoes, baba ganoush, extra virgin olive oil hummus, crispy halloumi, tortilla chips and grilled piadina bread. Yum-mee!!
For the mains, I went for the fish finger sandwich – although after seeing my brother-in-law’s rack of ribs, I definitely had a bad case of food envy. My sister, meanwhile, went for steak, chips and a side of broccoli. What I loved about this place was how laid back it was. There was no pretentious presentation, the portions were just enough, the staff were friendly but not in your face, and the price was exactly what you’d expect. The whole meal cost less than £90 for the three of us including drinks and coffees. I’d say this is the ideal place for a chilled get-together with friends and family. Great food and an even better setting.
*Some of these meals were offered on a complimentary basis in return for a review. All thoughts are honest and my own. You can read my disclaimer here.