Bird and Beast caught my eye a few months ago as I happen to walk through Central Arcade on my way to work most mornings. Things then started to rumble on twitter about it and my interest peaked further.
Bird and Beast is brought to us by a local chef Simon Shaw who is taking a step in to the Leeds dining scene by offering us a simple no fuss menu with locally sourced ingredients. A chef with a good standing already in the food scene he heads up El Gato Negro in Ripponden.
All the chicken is free range supplied by Sykes House Farms. What makes this chicken different? Firstly it's marinated twice in Simon's original rub, then steamed, and finished on the grill in the restaurant. You can sit at the Chefs table and watch the chickens being cooked and smoked over cherry wood chips and charcoal. A lot of thought, love and care has been put in to these chickens.
The main menu pretty much consists of a whole chicken (for two to share) £15.50, half a chicken £8.50 or a quarter chicken £5.00. There are sides and then there are chicken salads. Pretty simple. On Sundays they serve aged rib of Sirloin beef and belly pork.
On this occasion me and D decided to order the whole chicken to share which comes already cut up in to 8 easy portions.
I'm not sure the size of the chicken originally but we haven't been able to manage a large chicken at home to ourselves before so I'm going to hazard a guess that is a small to medium sized chicken. The chicken was moist and the marinade collected at the bottom of the dish which made for an excellent dip for the chips. There are numerous branded sauces at the tables dotted around the restaurant, some you'd recognise (Nandos) and some you probably wouldn't.
We made it a mini mission to try as many as possible. I quite liked this added feature as it made the meal more enjoyable, I often don't find as much joy with trying the sauces made in house as they often all taste similar with perhaps an added ingredient in each.
For sides we ordered chips and coleslaw. The coleslaw was chunky and crunchy, not overly sauced and good mouth cooler for those extra hot sauces. The chips were standard.
We decided to share a dessert not wanting to overindulge and went with the warm chocolate brownie served with cream or ice cream. Of course we chose ice cream. Although D was a little disappointed that he couldn't choose one of the goat ice creams listed on the menu.
Again this was pretty standard but the ice cream was lovely. It would be nice to know if this was the goats ice cream or something different.
A quick mention about the drinks on offer... I chose the cheapest glass of white which was surprisingly really nice and refreshing. D chose a home brewed ale which wasn't too shabby either!
With a stripped back simple menu you also get the same in the restaurant with some pretty spectacular (in my eyes) art work. I liked the comical looks on the chickens faces which have you a sense of the intended atmosphere here.
It was pretty quiet when we visited and we did see one couple come up for a look then walk away which is a shame.
Leeds does like it's Nandos, as portrayed in the ever growing number there are, and I do wonder how they will tempt people away and in to their restaurant for chicken instead.
I'd definitely recommend Bird and Beast as an alternative for lunch when out and about in the city centre. If the queues for the local Nandos are too long I urge you to give this place a try instead you may be pleasantly surprised.