Bird and Beast, Leeds – Restaurant Review
Bird and Beast, Leeds
by Rebecca Tredget
Not many restaurants put all their eggs in one basket – it’s a brave thing to do, hence the rarity. However Bird and Beast have done just that and, rather aptly, they’ve put all those eggs into the rotisserie chicken basket. The restaurant is the brain child of Simon Shaw who runs El Gato Negro in Ripponden (see the menu and drool at your own risk). They pride themselves on the locally sourced, free range chickens which are slowly cooked and finished over cherry wood chips.
The restaurant is on the top floor of Central Arcade, which is a bit odd on entering in the evening (empty shopping centres always have a Dawn of the Dead feel to me) however, once you’re inside the restaurant you hardly remember you’re in a shopping arcade – I also spotted an entrance on Central Road so you can come in that side if seventies zombie flicks also give you the heebie-jeebies. Once you’re inside the interior is light and airy with a big open kitchen and bar and a very chilled out atmosphere. There’s a real mix of seating inside; lots of little tables for couples and some big long ones for parties and groups of friends (which we saw a fair few of on our visit).
We decided to share a bottle of wine and went for the Gran Hacienda Sauvignon Blanc which was priced at a very decent £18. A crisp and light wine, perfect for the muggy evenings we’ve been having recently. All the wines (not including Champagne) across the menu range from £15-£32 – really reasonably priced in comparison to other restaurants – and the menu even includes the price that the wines usually retail for.
There are no starters at The Bird & Beast and even the sides are fairly minimal. It seems The Bird & Beast want all your attention on the chicken. We opted for the Orange, Cashew Nut Salad (£8.95), Fries (£3.25) and the Hand Cut Homemade Coleslaw (£2.75). The salad was delicious; a mix of cashews, spring onions, baby gem and juicy slices of orange – light and deliciously refreshing. The fries were crispy and piping hot, a good portion size to share between the two of us. The coleslaw was some of the best I’ve ever tasted in a restaurant, crunchy and crispy and not at all claggy.
Now onto that all important chicken. You have the choice to order either a quarter, a half or a whole of chicken. I guess this depends on how many are eating or how hungry you are. All the chickens are double marinated, slow cooked and finished off over cherry wood chips. We went for the whole chicken (£15.50) despite being a bit worried we might not finish it all, though we needn’t have worried. The meat was juicy and tender with a delicious herby, lemony taste from the marinate and there was just a hint of smokiness coming from the wood cherry chips. I absolutely love crispy skin and this chicken’s was up there with the best.
To go with your chicken you’re pointed in the direction of a huge array of sauces. Although really the chicken is so tasty it doesn’t need anything additions. All the sauces were big brand names and in future I’d love to see a couple of homemade Bird & Beast ones as they’ve definitely got the culinary skills. It would be great to have them create something that complimented their chicken perfectly.
By the time we’d polished the chicken off we were feeling just about sated. Still, we couldn’t say no to a little sweet treat. We decide against one of the bigger puddings and plump for one of the Greedy Goat Ice-creams. I went for the Salted Caramel (£3). My date went for the Maple and Praline (£3). His was lovely and creamy, a perfect end to the meal.
It’s refreshing to see a restaurant sticking firmly to their guns, serving a limited menu but executing it really well. I’ll definitely be going back in the future, especially to get my crispy chicken fix!
The Bird & Beast, Central Arcade, Central Road, Leeds, LS1 6DX
0113 245 3348
Editor’s note: Bird & Beast at this address closed down in February 2020 – the company hope to move to premises outside of the city centre
More info: facebook.com/birdrestaurant