From croquetas jamon to smokey choka and truffle puffs - here's some of the best bites from this year's citywide restaurant riot
EAT LEEDS; an invitation, or a demand? No matter, because with over 100 restaurants to work through in just seven days (19-25 Feb), there's little time to consider semantics.
From a few of our favourites (Issho, Iberica, Buca) to a few of theirs (Blackhouse, Cantina, East 59th) and a few of someone's (Red's, Giraffe, Marco's), this year's Restaurant Week - put together by the tireless folk at LeedsBID - surpasses last year's line-up and spanks it for good measure.
The £10 and £15 special one-off menus are back, with the addition of several fine-dining experiences - from the likes of Stockdales, Vice & Virtue and Crafthouse - for £30 a head.
Onion bhaji... on a pizza. Just let that sink in a moment
Prefer your grub up-right and in an oversized market hall with an impressive new sprinkler system and room to practice longbow? Right you are. Leeds Kirkgate Market will host a one-off night market on Thursday 22 February, with special dishes from the likes of Manjit’s Kitchen, Banh & Mee and Fat Annie’s between 5-10pm.
But let's be honest, even the most eager restaurant-collector is going to struggle getting through the lot, so below we've offered a hand and picked seven of our favourite dishes from this year's line-up:
Issho - Tomato Salad, Whipped Tofu, Sherry Vinegar & Sesame
We've extolled the virtues of this dish a few times already, but once more shouldn't hurt: blanched tomatoes dressed in sherry vinegar and served on top of hummus-looking whipped tofu with sesame. Simple enough, but beautifully executed. (Issho are offering two courses for £10, three courses for £15 and a tasting menu for £30.) Victoria Gate, Leeds LS2 7AU.
Iberica - Croquetas de Jamón
There are two dishes at Iberica that it is absolutely unforgivable to not try during a visit, and they both contain jamon (sorry veggos). Spanish ham does seem outlandishly expensive at first, that is, until you try it. Here we've got the Croquetas de Jamon, deep fried to give a crisp outside and a melting béchamel and ham goo inside. Ace. (Three courses £15, plus a glass of Cava.) Coverdale House, E Parade, Leeds LS1 2BH
Buca di Pizza - My Cousin Vinny
Onion bhaji... on a pizza. Just let that sink in a moment. Onion. Bhaji. Pizza. Add to that a hint of Goan curry, some paneer and mint yoghurt and you've got yourself an irresistible Indo-Italiano mash-up. (Three courses for £15.) City Central, 27 Wellington Street, Leeds LS1 4EA
Cantina - Quinoa Arancini with Smokey Tomato Choka
This all-vegan diner above The Old Red Bus Station has been pulling in all types of 'arians, 'vores and 'oodies since it opened in summer last year - such is the appeal of their tuck. Their special ELRW £15 three course menu includes toothsome bites such as winter beetroot borscht and crispy buffalo fried seitan zucchini, but the pick is the surprisingly light quinoa arancini with a smokey tomato choka. (Three courses for £15.) 104 Vicar Lane, Leeds LS2 7NL.
ZAAP - Pad Kee Mao Gai
The interior may be more in your face than a boozy bucket happy hour on Bangkok's Khao San Road, but that hasn't put off punters from queuing out in the rain for a table at Sukothai’s fun casual dining spin-off. One of the easy standout dishes here is the Pad Kee Mao Gai; a tangle of flat, waxy noodles in a sauce hot and sweet chilli-basil sauce, with golden crispy clouds of fried tofu on top. (Two courses for £10.) 22 Grand Arcade, Leeds LS1 6PG.
East 59th - Truffle Puffs
Though they may sound like a camp WWE tag team, these near-addictive bites are in fact creamy, potatoey balls - not unlike Iberica's jamon croquettas above - shot through with a hint of truffle funk. Very Noo Yawk. Warning: these won't last long (same goes for the popcorn shrimp). (Three courses for £15.) Rooftop, Victoria Gate, Eastgate, Leeds LS2 7AU
George's Great British Kitchen - Apple Caramac Higgledy-Piggledy Crumble
Caramac bars. Remember those. They were big back when B. Bumble and the Stingers were still rocking their nuts. Well, George (actually, development chef Duncan) has taken the fudgey, buttery caramel classic and wedged it into vanilla ice cream on top of an apple crumble named after a giant animated sock from In The Night Garden. (Two courses for £10, three courses for £15.) The Light, 52 The Headrow, Leeds LS1