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Restaurant Bar & Grill, review

Simon Binns conquers time and space in this city centre behemoth

Written by . Published on April 21st 2011.


Restaurant Bar & Grill, review

IF YOU ever watch Grand Designs, and god knows I try not to, you may feel the need to put your foot through the telly when Kevin McLeod goes on about the ‘wonderful use of light and space’ as he strolls around another millionaire’s barn conversion.

But there’s no other way to describe the cavernous yet airy innards of Restaurant Bar & Grill (RBG), which sits imposingly at the entrance to the city to the hoards of daily commuters coming in and out of the train station.

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It’s a fantastic dining room, but when I strolled in for lunch on a warm and sunny Tuesday, the vast majority of people were sat outside. I’ve got a bit of a phobia about al fresco dining, so I was happy to find a shady spot indoors. I’m from the North East; we’re built for wind resistance, not sunshine.

The outdoor gathering was good to see though, and showed the gateway to the city can be charming and relaxed, just as the service was in the restaurant itself.

A chatty PR was pitching a new client on the table next door; a boss was trying to impress his young PA on the table behind and all around me, corporate Leeds had decided Tuesday afternoon was not going to be a productive one.

Onto the food; a king prawn tikka tempura (£8.25) was nicely presented, adequately flavoured and perfect in portion. Our Manchester editor, Schofield, is obsessed by the amount of prawns in a portion, so for his benefit, it was five. Just right. The watery mint yoghurt dip served as a reminder I was in a chain restaurant, but it was no big deal. The spicing left a warm aftertaste that happy to have its hand held by a large glass of Sauvignon (£6.75).

The main event was a tandoori-baked sea bass (£17.95) with a side order of pak choi with chilli and soy (£3.95). Lovely. In fact, better than lovely. This was the best fish dish I’ve had in six months. The tandoori marinade, the delicious crisped skin, the tender white chunks of fish. It was hard to fault. The fact it turned up with the same watery raita was by the by. The pak choi was also cooked perfectly and delicately flavoured. A winner of a dish and perhaps not one that would instantly grab you amid the steaks.

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A lemon tart (£6.25) was the only dampener – literally – when it arrived in a small puddle of water on the plate. I’d argue it was riotously over-priced as well. I;ve had better and bigger for under a fiver.

It would be easy for RBG to turn out food worse than this and get away with it, such is the draw of the place to the city’s corporate crowd.

A chatty PR was pitching a new client on the table next door (trust me, I know); a boss was trying to impress his young PA on the table behind and all around me, corporate Leeds had decided Tuesday afternoon was not going to be a productive one. It’s easy to be seduced by this space. It’s built for long lunches, but the service was slick enough to have me in and out in an hour.

I'll be back, and I'll stay longer next time. But I'm still not sitting outside.

Rating:16/20
Breakdown:8/10 food
4/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address:Restaurant Bar & Grill
3 City Square
Leeds
LS1 2AN
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

Next time, I’ll stay longer. But I’m still not sitting outside.

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