Plant power, perfectly-cooked pigeon, bread salad and brioche buns
And just like that, April is here, bringing with it showers, snow and maybe a little bit of sunshine. Our team have, as usual, been on the case. Snuffling out some of the best plates of food in the land to recommend so that you might go forth and enjoy in good faith.
We've found ironic vegan dishes, Italian ham, bread salad and the "cowiest" potato in all of Yorkshire.
Keep scrolling for the best things to eat in Leeds (and beyond) this month.
Confit fennel, Friends of Ham (£7.50)
I’m a red lippy girl. This doesn’t combine well with my hobby-turned-job of eating everything. It gives me a snappy opening line for the writing bit though. Ever the multitasker, I’m writing this on my notes app as I leg it across Leeds to meet a friend - having just reapplied the red lipstick dissolved by a joyously oily plate of food. The culprit was created by the kitchen team at Friends of Ham, a place that many Friends of Kel have told me to visit but I hadn't yet managed til now. I can see why they were so beseeching. This was a beautiful plate of confit fennel, a vegan dish that somehow managed to invoke the spirit of N’Duja as if FOH were the Whoopi Goldberg to me, a tearful Demi Moore. It was caramelised, sweet but not too much, and posed beautifully for its picture. A world away from weird meat substitutes and rainbow-bunned junk food, this is exactly the kind of plant power on a plate that I’m after. The irony of ordering a vegan dish at a place called Friends of Ham is not lost on me. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
Winter panzanella, OWT (£5.50)
How am I supposed to convince you that a simple salad is worth crawling out of your armchair for? Well, I know this picture looks like a small bowl of shredded vegetables but I am convinced that it is the perfect bowl food.
Firstly, Panzanella is basically bread salad. And secondly, while this dish definitely did boast cubes of fried bread, it was the lip-smacking punch of lemon and garlic from a creamy, silky, zingy gremolata that took this bowl from side salad to main event.
My pal ordered a towering sandwich from the same menu, and while she allowed me a small taste of the restaurant's famous fried chicken, I could see her peeking over at my well-dressed carrot and celeriac with lust and desire in her eyes. This is a bowl worth writing home about, I'll tell you that for nowt. Sophie Rahnema @sophieshahla
Scrambled egg brioche bun, Archive (£7)
When squashy sweet brioche meets smokey melted cheddar and tangy tamarind ketchup, you know your brunch bap’s gonna be good. Add scrambled egg into the mix, and you’ve pretty much made your day, before midday. The beauty of this guy is that it’s available - every day, Monday to Sunday, under the twinkly lights at Archive on Kirkstall Road. A stellar spot for a little “WFH” laptop action, or a weekend spent gassing with pals. Highly recommended. Sarah Cotterill @scottnodot
Squab pigeon, The Angel at Hetton (part of the £75 a la carte menu)
The words “perfectly cooked” can be bandied about a little too liberally at times. Usually by me, granted. But in the case of this tip-top plate of pigeon, scarfed on a recent trip to the Angel at Hetton, it’s the swear-on-my-cat’s-life truth.
Now, I could attempt a forensic breakdown of each deftly handled component, but sometimes it’s best to simply bask in the brilliance of an esteemed kitchen firing out the good stuff. I can tell you that there was breast: charred of skin and pink of flesh. There was leg: pointy, buff and crisp. And there was a burnished wodge of deeply savoury liver. The whole lotta laser-sharp and - soz - perfectly cooked treat. Richard Miller @eatingthenorth
Mortadella focaccia sandwich, Doh Hut (£6)
What did we do to deserve Doh Hut? This place delivers one of the best eating experiences in the city, with a small and simple menu executed to perfection. These focaccia sandwiches are the stuff of my actual dreams. This one comprises silky folds of rich mortadella, mild, creamy ricotta, piquant garlic aioli with lemon (I've started drizzling lemon on every fancy sarnie I make at home now) and fresh rocket. But it's the salty black olive and rosemary focaccia itself that's the star. It's laced with olive oil and has a springy texture with an airy crumb and a crisp crust that invites a little tap. And then of course there are the donuts, which are hands down the best in town.
Doh Hut is the kind of gem you find on holiday and enthusiastically badger your friends to visit. It's where you'd take Fred Sirieix for lunch if he were filming more Remarkable Places to Eat. It doesn't do much, but that's what I love so much about it. Everything on offer is of the highest possible quality, the gold standard. And they're efficient, you can pre-order for collection, order for delivery, or just turn up. The experience is on point every single time. Much respect for this. Anja Madhvani @anja_madhvani
Fish and chips, The Old Bridge Inn (£14)
Did you enjoy our five days of summer for the year then? I did but for one thing – an enormous amount of jealousy directed at all the folk who unexpectedly emerged from winter hibernation and made their way to the seaside for some fish ‘n’ chips. My social media was, er, awash with them.
Fortunately, my local stepped in with some absolutely top-notch work and swept my envy away on a tide made entirely of crispy yet delicate beer-battered haddock (no excess grease here), beef dripping chips, and mushy peas. Call me old fashioned, but if your chips aren’t cooked in beef dripping, you need your head checking – and the ones at the Old Bridge are perhaps the cowiest potato-based morsels I’ve ever laid mouth on. Also, the pub has one of the most spectacular interiors in the country; if you like exposed beams, you’ll need a cold shower after visiting to calm you down. Magic. Simon Richardson @lunatic_on_the_grass
Satay goong, Jino’s Thai Café (£6.25)
Jino’s has undergone something of a transformation to go with its recent relocation to North Lane, and I have to say, I’m here for it. But while the atmosphere might be airier and the orchid-to-guest ratio certainly greater, one thing that hasn’t changed is the incredible food. Just as authentic, delicious and packed with flavour as ever, Jino’s menu reads like a veritable list of treats. These prawns came nestled on skewers next to chunks of mushroom and pepper, with a delicate satay sauce for some heavy dunking action. Add in some pickled veg for a welcome kick of acidity, and you’ve got yourself a starter close to perfection. Kate Ryrie @kateryrie
Read again: 'I hope it was an accident' - FINT, reviewed
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