Food and drink, especially good food and drink are a big thing in Leeds, West Yorkshire. With more restaurants, pubs and cocktail bars than you can shake a stick at, it takes something special in this cosmopolitan city to make it stand out from the crowd. So when we were invited to try out Banyan Bar & Kitchen, a new city centre bar & kitchen we were eager to see if it has that certain je ne sais quoi needed to make it a go-to place in Leeds.
So we visited for lunch today with a couple of friends. I’ll be honest we may have had one (ten) too many vodkas last night. Therefore we were all feeling pretty ‘tired’ this morning and ready for a good meal. We headed to Banyan for noon on the dot. Not being from Leeds I wasn’t 100% sure here we were heading but it was very easy to find, it is literally opposite the train station in the beautiful Old Post Office which is an impressive building in itself and the perfect setting for a meal and drinks in the city.
Summer days in England are very few and far between but today was warm and bright which provided the perfect opportunity to dine al fresco in Banyan’s seating area at the front of the building. We were the first people to grab a table out there but we weren’t alone for long as a steady steam of people quickly followed, proving that even though Banyan has only actually been open in Leeds for a few weeks it is already popular. Point to note – if you sit outside you are asked for a credit/debit card which is locked away until the end of your meal. This is obviously to stop food thieves from eating and running!
Banyan have a long, lovely list of very nice sounding cocktails, in fact you can even take a cocktail masterclass here and mix your own. However as we were all feeling delicate a round of soft drinks were ordered instead which proved to be very refreshing in the midday sun.
Now on to the most important part – the food. We decided to share two starters between the four of us and to be honest I’m glad we did. We ordered calamari served with wasabi sour cream and Brie wedges served with caramelised onion chutney. Both lovely and tasty. It’s safe to say portions sizes are not small here but are not vulgarly over the top either. Unfortunately, we were all so eager to tuck in I forgot to snap the goods. Guess that just means you’ll have to visit yourself to see just how good they are 🙂
In 2016 it still shocks me how many restaurants/cafes/kitchen still struggle to offer the herbivores amongst us anything other than a veggie lasagna. Not at Banyan, the veggie options are plentiful and varied, so much so even I opted for the halloumi burger (£10.95) over my usual burger of choice, beef. Served in a bun with peppers and butternut squash, it truly was a tasty delight and just what the doctor ordered. I also chose to upgrade my fries to sweet potato fries (+£1) – delish!
Mr ESLT opted for the luxury fish pie (£13.95) packed full of haddock, prawns and salmon in parsley sauce, topped with herb and cheese mashed potato crumb served with fresh greens. It looked and smelt devine and Mr ESLT confirmed that it was. It was safe to say we had all throughly enjoyed our meals at Banyan.
Even though we didn’t eat inside, I hopped on in for a sneaky peak. It is very modern and contemporary, the perfect setting for lunch, dinner or just drinks. As Leeds is a busy, thriving city I can imagine it gets very busy after work and at weekends so I’d recommend booking a table in advance, especially if eating. With its central location and the fact that it’s not in a shopping mall, like many nice bars are in Leeds, it ticks the box for me. We already have a return trip to Leeds planned at the end of July and hopefully we will return to Banyan to try out some of their cocktails!
So is Banyan a contender in quite a saturated market. I personally think it can be. Even though we probably only see 4.5 days of sunshine a year, an outside area is always welcome which many restaurants in the area don’t have. The prices are competitive and the food is good value for money. The building is fantastic and the first thing you see when you step off the train which I think is a major benefit. The staff were friendly and polite. We did have a small issue with our main courses taking quite a while but we’re all human and we did receive a sincere apology from our waiter for his slight oversight.
There are also two other branches of Banyan in Yorkshire, one in Harrogate and one in York.
Thank you Banyan for a lovely lunch!
* lunch and drinks were provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for honest review!