Does Leeds have a Michelin star?
Restaurants around the world covet a Michelin Star from the Michelin Guide. Restaurants in Leeds are no different, with only four restaurants in Leeds ever holding a star, and only one establishment currently holding and retaining its star since 2015. In Leeds City Centre, there are multiple fine dining restaurants still vying for one of the greatest culinary awards. Fine dining is not simply about having food to eat; is a world of tasting menus and wine flights, exquisite service and a constantly evolving dining landscape. Here are some of our best restaurants in Leeds.
Fine Dining at Leeds restaurants
Man Behind The Curtain — Michael O'Hare
Before Man Behind The Curtain, only three restaurants in Leeds had ever held a Michelin Star: Pool Court, Rascasse and Guellar, with Pool Court closing in 2005.
After a decade-long Michelin drought in Leeds, Man Behind The Curtain earned its star in 2015 and has retained it year-on-year ever since. The restaurant is renowned for its no-nonsense, good food vibe, with chef-patron Michael O’Hare a finalist of and now regular guest judge on BBC’s Great British Menu.
O’Hare’s current menu is eclectic and intriguing, including Sea Urchin, Smoked Eel, Gunma Wagyu and Frozen Döner; his “Emancipation” fish course from GBM also still features. Diners rave about an “Out of this world experience”, with the aesthetic of the restaurant certainly acting as one of its unique selling points. The dining experience can be polarising, with some commenting on decor and overall style — all we’ll say is: you don’t get a Michelin Star for doing things wrong.
The restaurant will be reimagined in 2024 as Psycho Sandbar, with diners treated to a new fish-heavy menu along with an overhauled, brutalist refit of the existing restaurant on Vicar Lane. Visitors will still be able to enjoy a refined, fine dining experience, with high quality cooking and seasonal ingredients, only half a mile away from Leeds train station.
HOME and The Owl — Elizabeth Cottam
Elizabeth Cottam’s restaurant HOME sits on the banks of the River Aire at 3 Brewery Place, opposite the Calls where Pool Court used to be.
HOME was opened in 2017 at another location near Kirkgate market in Leeds city centre with business partner Mark Owens. After relocating to its current place on the riverside in 2021, she opened another venture, The Owl at the old location until 2022, when The Owl too moved to a water-side locale, off Mustard wharf.
Cottam’s current tasting menu at HOME, the Signature Menu Collection “Stuck Somewhere Between” boasts earthy textures with a grounded, autumnal vibe. Mushrooms, artichoke and truffle are all served on rustic earthenware, with more traditional appetites sated by Sea Bass, Oysters and Roast Duck Breast. As another Great British Menu contender and Masterchef semi-finalist, Cottam’s restaurant HOME offers five different menus, all with separate wine flights for different occasions.
The Owl offers five and seven course tasting menus, an a la carte menu and lighter bar snacks, as well as sunday lunch menus, Christmas menus and special offers during the festive season.
At both HOME and The Owl, both vegetarian menus and pescatarian options are available, with alternatives on offer for those with Coeliac disease.
Chef Jono at V&V
When it comes to fine dining, Leeds continues to impress. Chef Jono Hawthorne took over as head chef of the already-established Vice & Virtue, rebranding the restaurant under his own name.
As yet another Masterchef: The Professionals finalist, Jono Hawthorne gained a great deal of attention in the 2020 season by reaching the finals with an eccentric menu which included a mushroom tiramisu dessert and, amongst other things, ants.
Having visited this restaurant ourselves, we can commend the fantastic menus, from the signature seven course tasting menu to their Sunday lunch menu. Chef Jono at V&V offers a fully vegan menu, which makes it something of an outlier in this pack — though the option is welcome. The atmosphere of Chef Jono at V&V is cosy but comfy, perfect for a special occasion.
Upon arriving, visitors head upstairs to the restaurant and are shown to tables which are comfortably spaced apart with a full view of the open kitchen. Chef Jono at V&V offers a wine flight — a selection of wines specially chosen for each course. The food is, quite simply, great — V&V is deserving of its status as one of the top restaurants in Leeds and won Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year as well as Yorkshire Restaurant of the Year at the Food Awards England 2023.
Banner image credit: Chef Jono at V&V
Whilst a Michelin Star still eludes the restaurant of the Dakota Hotel in Leeds, Michelin guide still recommends the Dakota Grill. With a modern british food spread across a la carte, tasting menus and Sunday lunch menus, the Dakota restaurant is enjoyed by hotel residents and members of the public.
As a grill restaurant, the Dakota has a focus on meat with its signature “venetian” menu featuring a 1/2 kilo chateaubriand, paired with an Argentinian malbec. The five course menu is available throughout the week, with, of course, a matching wine flight. The bar is well stocked with a variety of popular and special wines and spirits, from Dom Perignon vintage to a 1962 Italian Primitivo, available as a Magnum.
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