It’s Eat Leeds Restaurant Week and we are spoiled for choice.

Now that Christmas and the New Year are distant memories and Dry January/Veganuary is out of the way we should be about ready to get back to some semblance of normality when it comes to food and drink, but just hold the phone. This week – 19th to 25th February – is Eat Leeds Restaurant Week. Previously this event has been more concerned with chain restaurants, but this year there are a lot of independent establishments in the scheme.

The range of restaurants goes from A-Z.  I won’t take you through the whole lot of them but included in the ‘A’ category is the Alchemist. In fact there are two Alchemists in the scheme, one in Greek Street and the other in the Trinity Centre. Alchemy is the process of turning base metals into noble metals, but don’t be put off as these establishments satisfy themselves by turning fresh ingredients into great meals. They are also dab hands at turning alcoholic beverages into imaginative cocktails, so you may wish to put them to the test whilst perusing the menu.

If that sounds a bit mainstream then you can go straight to ‘Z’ and try Zaap at the bottom of the Grand Arcade.  Where else can you indulge in Thai street food whilst sitting in a Bangkok tuk-tuk? OK, Bangkok, you got me there. Back to ‘B’ which is for Boar Lane where you will find the Botanist. This is another establishment which serves cocktails and whose name is a contradiction of its fare. You would imagine it to sell mainly vegetarian food but I can assure you that the charcuterie is well worth the visit.  I am sure that you must now be wishing that I would ‘F’ off and if I did then Fettle would be the ‘F’ to which I would off!  This is a more intimate, relaxed place to dine but whose food is exemplary. Anyway, I don’t want to live your lives for you so follow the instructions below, troll through the restaurants and take a chance. I have eaten at most of them and can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

The Alchemist Bang Bang Chicken Salad

The idea is that you visit the website at where there is a list of everyone taking part, together with a calendar of events, but the crux is that the participants have created menus for either £10 or £15 so that you can give their wares a try without breaking the bank. When you have decided on a restaurant you add a voucher to your cart and a confirmation email is sent by return, which you produce to obtain the offer. Simples!

Again the multiple outlet diners are well represented should you wish to play it safe, but why not take the advice I gave you above and use the occasion to sample something a little more adventurous. In addition to the restaurants I picked out above, all other bases are covered, from pubs through Spanish, Indian, Italian, barbecues, South American, Mexican, North American and Japanese to Pie and Peas. There is also a cross-section of outlet types, from fine dining to street food. The times that the offers are available vary, so please check this out on the website before you apply for the voucher. You don’t even need to venture into the City Centre as many of the places are in the ‘burbs.  How very convenient.

Zaap Thai pad ga-prao

As with any offer, there have to be exceptions, but with this one they are not get-out clauses but welcome variations. The first is what is called Exclusively Eat Leeds and comprises four of the finest restaurants in the City who have provided extra special meals for £30 which promise to be superb. The second is a one-off event on Thursday, 22nd when Kirkgate Market is staying open until 10.00pm so that you can take advantage of the street food stalls at the bottom end next to the open market entrance. No vouchers are needed for this event, so just rock up and enjoy.

The Botanist – Deli Board selection

What better way is there to beat the cold February blues or celebrate your recovery from the Australian Flu than with a good meal out at a reasonable price, and what with the Christmas and January Sales credit card statement needing to be paid, it’s a no-brainer.

Stan Graham

Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living.  He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds.  He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.

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