Friday, 6 May 2016

Banyan Bar - 2 City Sqaure Leeds

Banyan is the fourth of it's kind to open, with York, Harrogate and Manchester already having one placed firmly in their cities. It takes over the spot in City Square's old post office that used to house Loch Fyne. According to my sources there was a fierce battle over this spot between Arc Inspirations (who own Banyan) a local Indian restaurant chain and another big national chain. Locality won out as Arc Inspirations who are a Leeds based company won the spot.

The site is huge and a massive win for Arc Inspirations and they've pumped in £1.4 million in a bid to make it successful. I was lucky to be invited along to a sneak preview before they opened and then again for the full experience shortly after.

To cut to the chase for me it's all about the cocktails here. There is a great selection, they're different and they're not too fussy. If you love gin there is a plethora of gin based cocktails available.

On my first trip I sampled, alongside a group of other bloggers, several variations of their cocktails including the pea and mint Bellini, cucumber cooler, pistachio espresso martini and the fireside Jamaican.

The pea and mint Bellini (not pictured) was a strange one, made with sugar snap peas it had that 'green' grass like taste which you'd normally associate with savoury food and then a sweetness and minty flavour... it was a mishmash of flavours and to be honest I don't think I ever quite made up my mind whether I liked it or not. I drank it so I guess that says something!

My favourites of the night were the pistachio martini (best drank as soon as possible, as it starts to warm the bitterness of the coffee comes through much more) and the cucumber cooler made with gin and packed full of ice this would be an incredibly refreshing drink to while away the afternoon with in their expansive outdoor seating area.

On my return visit I opted for a Passion Fruit Caipirinha and D went with the recommendation (from the waitress) of a Gin Garden made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, lemon juice and infused with basil and topped with prosecco - very refreshing!

As mentioned before my second visit involved a full sit down meal and having had a few samples from the menu previously I had my eyes on a full serving of a couple of dishes, namely the deep fried brie balls (who doesn't like deep fried cheese) and the avocado and pea toasts.

The deep fried brie annoyingly came in a portion of three which meant only 1.5 pieces each. The cheese had held well in it's breaded casing and hadn't sneaked out on to the plate, a sign of cooking at the right temperature and not for too long. The accompanying chutney suited it well.

The avocado and pea toasts were topped with wasabi mayo which gave it a little kick were truly delightful and I'd definitely order these as a snack to accompany my cocktail.

Another starter which is on offer which we didn't eat with our meal but I did sample at the bloggers event was the teriyaki pork belly. Really quite sweet and a little bit fatty these weren't for me but others seemed to enjoy them.

We decided to share main courses between us and so ordered the Prince's Trust Burger (25p going to the charity) and the chicken skewer (no donation to charity).

The metal skewer on the chicken was red hot to touch preventing us from dissembling it and so we descended on the burger first.

The burger was crazy tall and needed much flattening with the fist to be able to fit it in your mouth. The burger is topped with bacon, lettuce, fresh tomato, Monterrey Jack cheese, wholegrain mustard and mayo encased in a brioche bun and topped with a rather large onion ring. It's not the best burger of your life, it's a fairly standard middle of the range bar burger. We all know where my favourite burgers lie in Leeds [whispers] "Patty Smiths and Byron Burger". D compared it to a 'spoons burger, I'm not sure whether this is good or bad as I haven't eaten a 'spoons burger for many years.

Once we had devoured the burger we set about dissecting the chicken skewer. When we were asked to chose a marinade at ordering I expected the chicken to be cooked in the sauce but instead it was placed in a little copper pot beside. Provided with the skewer was a Mediterranean flat bread (which  looked like a tortilla wrap to me) and we attempted to make a wrap of sorts out of it shovelling in grilled pieces of chicken, veg and the accompanying rocket. The chicken was a little dry for my taste and when the wrap idea failed miserably I settled with eating it with a good old knife and fork and mopping up the piri piri sauce with my tortilla wrap, sorry Mediterranean flat bread. 

Both sets of chips (normal and sweet potato) were good but the metal cup they came in made them hot to touch and difficult to remove from your plate without a napkin, great for keeping your chips warm but just be careful. 

The atmosphere was loud. We struggled to hear each other, the waitress and she struggled to hear us too. We had a table booked for 6.15pm on a Thursday evening, the place was brimming to full capacity with a lot of 'after workers'. Many people were in there for drinks and there were a few large groups. Our waitress was a bit haphazard in that she smashed quite a few things whilst we were there including a tray of glasses and then a whole stack of plates which created an almighty crash. When she returned to our table to take our plates she told us it was her that had created the loud crash and that she was worried she would get in to trouble as the plates were expensive and she'd just smashed a whole heap of them. She was very nervous and I hope she finds some confidence as time goes on. 

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, for me Banyan is all about the cocktails, I couldn't fault them. As for the food, it's a rather varied mix of burgers, steaks, sandwiches and a few other worldly cuisines. Much of the menu to me seemed to be the same/similar as the other Arc Inspiration restaurants such as Manahatta, Kith & Kin and Napa. It's not a place I'd run home and rave about to all my friends (and Twitter) based solely on the food but I'd definitely recommend it as a drinking destination. They have a dedicated menu to those who are Gluten intolerant which is always a good thing if you have a mate who has Coeliac disease. Perhaps we chose the wrong dishes for our mains, I'd be interested to hear what others thought? 

I'd definitely return for a cocktail outside in the sun, and I'm most likely to order some nibbles from the small plates section (because I'm greedy and always want food), in particular those avocado and pea toasts, to help soak up some of the booze which goes straight to my head in the sunshine. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love this one! x