Sunday, 9 October 2011

Kendells Bistro - Leeds

After the disappointment of Souz Le Nez last year (nothing to do with the food just the service) I have been determined to find a nicer, more welcoming, more French-like restaurant ever since.

A friend recommended Kendell's Bistro as a nice place to celebrate a special occasion.

Tucked away down a side street off of St Peter's Street squished in between The Wardrobe and a dance studio it doesn't look amazing from the outside.

HOWEVER... when we stepped inside the atmosphere that surrounded us was spirited and we were much more impressed.

We were greeted at the door by a lovely lady who asked for our reservation and took our coats and umbrella. She asked us if we had ever visited before and quickly explained the set up. There is a black board which spans the length of the restaurant on one wall. On this black board is the whole menu, the reason? The menu is constantly changing and if anything is sold out the Chef can quickly amend it, a good idea and a sign of a confident Chef. Guiding us to our table she proceeded to tell us that she was expecting a large group this evening so asked that we please excuse where we were being seated. She was tucking us away in the corner as it would be more romantic and hidden away from the noise that would later descend on the restaurant. This really impressed us as we were not treated with such thought and compassion in the Scarborough Hotel when they were expecting a large group.

The whole room is lit by fairy lights and candles on the tables, shelves, ledges, candelabras and anywhere else they can place one safely. It creates a really heart warming relaxing atmosphere, very romantic. The tables and chairs are all mismatched which adds to the French Bistro ideal of modest dining and home cooking. The type of restaurant I had hoped to find in Paris....

Once we had found our tables we got up to have a closer look at the menu. I decided to go with the Early Bird Menu, a very good deal of 3 courses and half a bottle of wine for £24.95. My friend's eye had been caught by a starter that wasn't on the early bird menu so he decided to get that and the two course early bird menu for £16.95.

Once we got back to the table the waiter was upon us to take our drinks order. I decided to go with Rose, and my friend asked for the non-alcoholic options and was met with coke, lemonade and J20...

My half a bottle of Rose came in a decanter rather than a mini bottle which was fine but I was interested in what the house wine actually consisted of.

For starters I ordered French Onion Soup. I have never tried French onion soup... and it turns out I'm not a big fan.

I'm sure it was a lovely French soup and I really did make a good go at it to try and avoid offending the Chef, but just tasted like bread soaked in in Bisto.

Like I mentioned before My friend had spotted something that wasn't on the set menu that he really wanted for a starter.. this was frogs legs.

The batter was really light and crispy the legs were cooked just right overly done they become chewy and tasteless. The presentation was a lot neater here than for my onion soup which had slopped and run all down the sides of the pot.

For mains we both ordered the slow cooked pork belly with vegetables.

It looks amazing and it really is. My friend wolfed theirs down not because they was starving but because they loved it so much. Unlike me who chose to eat it slowly and savour the masterpiece which sat upon my plate. The crispy crackling versus the moist stringy meat of the belly made for a spectacular taste experience. The vegetables were fresh and flavoursome. This was true rustic French food, this is what I had been searching for when looking for a French restaurant.

The waiter returned to take our dessert orders. We asked if he could explain a few of them to us, as unlike everything else on the menu the desserts did not have an English translation underneath. We were pleased to find that our waiter was French and had a dry French sense of humour and made us laugh. He gave advice on which desserts were nice and which were just OK. We took him up on his suggestions and went for the Chocolate Pot... this sounds a lot nice when translated in to French...

A small espresso cup of dense chocolate mousse arrived. It was so rich in flavour and smooth in texture. The raspberries were ripe and succulent. This I couldn't hold back on and ate it before I realised I was left frantically scrapping the remains of the tiny cup for any shred of heaven left in the cup. My friend admitted that this was a bit rich for them and he only managed to eat it all as he decided to accompany it with a coffee.

As you can see presentation wasn't perfect on this evening... but it didn't affect the flavours. Flavours always trump presentation in my book, something can look amazing but taste horrible, whereas something that doesn't look amazing but tastes incredible will always win. The coffee however was good by all accounts from my friend, although not as good as some of the coffee they had tasted in Paris...

We left the restaurant feeling extremely well looked after and would love to return as there was so much more on the menu I would like to try and I am intrigued to see how much the menu changes with each visit.

A lovely and romantic spot, but also a good place to go with friends. The teatime early bird menu is catered mainly for those visiting the theatre. The waiters ask if you are attending the theatre that night as they will serve you with plenty of time for you to get to your seats in the auditorium.

I booked online which was an added convenience, and I do recommend making a reservation as I expect this place gets very busy on most nights. We visited on a Tuesday evening and the restaurant was half full. Book well in advance for a weekend table.

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