Arc Inspirations, the company behind Arc, Trio and The Box, have just launched their latest venture, Banyan Leeds. Having gained success launching the Banyan brand in Harrogate, York, and Manchester, managing director Martin Wolstencroft was eager to bring his vision to Leeds, where he opened Arc, the first of his impressive list of bars and restaurants, in 2000. Lippy received an invite to Banyan Leeds’ recent blogger event, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to sample their menu! As the name would suggest, the menu has a clear Asian influence (the banyan tree being the national tree of India), yet Mediterranean and traditional British plates also feature. There is a wide array of choice, from salads, to burgers, meaning that there is something for everyone at Banyan. It is evident that the global influence is essential to the Banyan brand; above the main restaurant, there is a cosier, upper floor, with travel-themed décor. This atmospheric setting is the perfect spot for a cocktail with friends.
We were allowed to sample the small plates menu, as well as some delicious cocktails. Being a rum lover, the Rum & Raisin Mai Tai was definitely the drink for me! Everything was delicious, but my favourite dishes were the Teriyaki Belly Pork and the Crispy Duck Spring Rolls. The balance of flavours was absolute perfection, and I had to try and remember my manners and not take more than my share! I was also impressed by the fact that Banyan were flexible with their menu, swiftly providing vegan, and gluten-free platters when they were required. Later in the evening, we were brought some desserts to sample. The dishes we tasted were the Vanilla Cheesecake and the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Torte, accompanied by an equally amazing Pistachio Espresso Martini. I loved how Banyan had taken classic recipes, and added their own twist to create something new.
After an evening of being very well-fed, I would heartily recommend Banyan Leeds. The location in City Square, at the heart of Leeds, the wide-ranging menu, the innovative recipes, and the relaxing atmosphere, all combine to make Banyan bar & kitchen a truly great restaurant. I will definitely be visiting again in the new future and I hope you will too!
Words: Niamh Leonard-Bedwell