Burger anatomy, crunchy aeroplanes and taste-making scoundrels
We're obviously feeling a little reflective this month. It might be the fact that the seasons are a-changing or maybe it's the collective nationwide sigh of relief having realised, naively or not, that enjoying a pint in our local is finally back for good.
Either way, you might notice a touch of the home comforts in our best dishes, with a sprinkling of pomegranate and edamame to keep our palates fresh and tingly. We're just happy to be eating out and doing what we love, especially when that thing comes with a side of fries and pickles.
Strap on your girdles, Leeds' best dishes await you.
Whipped Cod’s Roe, The Moorcock Inn (£5)
Joni Mitchell said “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” but she hadn’t reckoned with quite how much I love sitting in boozers and drinking beer. I appreciated it before the pandemic, I pined for it while they were closed, and I love it again now they’re open. The thing with really comfy pubs, though, is that you do tend to stay there all day, and supping doesn’t half work up an appetite. We aren’t great at bar snacks in this country but my local, the Moorcock, really is. (It’s actually really good at everything, hence its ranking in this year’s National Restaurant Awards.) Anyway, one of its recurring beer accompaniments is whipped cod’s roe. Sounds simple? Well, it is. It’s basically posh taramasalata – creamy, light and fluffy, and making its way to my mouth on a crunchy brown aeroplane of homemade crispy delight. Here it comes, neeeeeowwwww, open wide! Get in my face. Simon Richardson
The Moorcock Inn Moor Bottom Lane, Norland, Sowerby Bridge HX6 3RP
Nashville Hot Chicken, The Swine That Dines (£11)
Forget bottomless brunch, you don’t need it. What you do need is a two-course brunch, three if you’re ambitious. Enter The Swine That Dines. I ate everything, but we have to choose one dish so I’ll tell you about the best chicken sandwich to ever touch these lips. Boneless chicken thigh is marinated in buttermilk, fried to a crisp and slathered in a punchy Nashville hot sauce. It’s dripping with cheese sauce and served in a homemade bun, few things bring me such joy as the Sunday morning light of North Street reflected on that sweet, sweet glaze. Oh, what’s that? A side of pickles? Just take my money, you taste-making scoundrels. Anja Madhvani @anja_madhvani
The Swine That Dines, 58 North Street, Leeds LS2 7PN
The Classic Burger, Rumpus (£8.50)
Sometimes it’s the simple things. Yes, that is a hoary old cliché, but it’s one that surely rings true when it comes to the long-fought battleground of the burger. Things got very silly there for a time. And while there are more maverick choices to be had at Rumpus, newly landed in quaint Saltaire, it’s the old-school, no-faff Classic that hit the spot on my maiden visit.
I’m confident that this cultured readership is familiar with the burger basics but you’ll forgive my forensics, for these things matter. Beef: well-seared, loose and juicy. Cheese: lurid and liquefying. Bun: buff and bronzed. There is alchemy and the claggy ensemble sings. Let’s not forget the hot, crisp pile of accompanying fries, either. A class-act classic. Richard Miller @eatingthenorth
Rumpus 22 Bingley Road, BD18 4RS
Spicy Tuna Bowl, House of Fu (£13)
Although the Headrow's newest resident is most famous for its delectable bowls of authentic ramen, its other dishes are not to be sniffed at. On my third trip (yes, I’m keen) to Ben Davey’s new brainchild since its opening in May, I fancied something different and opted for one of the joint’s fresh ’Super Bowls’. I wasn’t disappointed. A mound of tuna sashimi sat atop sesame-seasoned rice, surrounded by a joyous party of pickled daikon and cucumber, avocado, nori, edamame and tomatoes. Guaranteed to leave you feeling full but fresh. Kate Ryrie @kateryrie
House of Fu 15-19 The Headrow, Leeds LS1 6PU
Chowpatti Bhel, Prashad (£7.45)
Prashad’s laminated ring binder menus are scattered with affirmations of "tantalising tastebuds" and "melt-in-your-mouth" experiences. But soon after sampling Chef Minal’s expertly balanced dishes, you realise this isn’t just garrulous jargon. The Chowpatti Bhel is like having a birthday sparkler ignite on the roof of your mouth. Crunchy puffed rice and shards of bubbling samosa in a sweet and sharp tamarind sauce, bedazzled with pomegranate seeds and cubes of sour ripe mango. A starter you’d happily hoover up with a spoon all evening. This is flavour exemplified; one "tangy snack" indeed. Sarah Cotterill @scottnodot
Prashad 137 Whitehall Road, Drighlington, BD11 1AT
Read next: Top things to do in Leeds in October 2021
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