French Restaurants in West Yorkshire
1. The Box Tree French restaurant in Ilkley 35-37 Church St - LS29
“Why it lost its Michelin star I do not know, it was as good as ever”, so it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this Yorkshire institution has been unfairly cursed by the tyre company. Established in 1962, this “intimate and opulent” venue is Yorkshire’s answer to Le Gavroche: “a proper classical restaurant, with all the standards of service, napery, glassware, etc that we’re always being told aren’t important for the dining public these days”. But since the October 2018 demotion by Michelin, change has been been nearly non-stop. The star loss led to the immediate departure of head chef Kieran Smith and appointment of Samira Effa in his stead. Then in April 2019 Michael Carr joined because Samira didn’t last. All the while “despite the upheavals, the Box Tree has sailed serenely on: the chintz still looks out over the hushed rooms, Didier da Costa still presides over a great wine list, and there is still soufflé for dessert”. And practically all reports still attest to its “impeccable”, somewhat classical cuisine and “gentle, low-key hospitality that treats you beautifully”. Hopefully in future, they will just forget Michelin, and continue to do what the place has been doing so well (and it’s rated on that basis).
2. Kendells Bistro French restaurant in Leeds St Peters Square - LS9
“Intimate… delightfully eclectic” – there’s no shortage of plaudits for this “romantic” fixture, where there’s “no menu but all the choices are on a giant blackboard”. The overall effect is “just like dining in France…confit of duck, French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon etc.”, and the early-evening menu is “amazing value for money” too.
3. Sous le Nez en Ville British, Modern restaurant in Leeds Quebec Hs, Quebec St - LS1
“Good French bourgeois cooking à la Yorkshire (ie big portions)” and a “great wine list” have combined to make this basement a popular city-centre refuge for thirty years. Weekly deliveries from Rungis market in Paris are complemented by more local produce. “A great spot for business” for which it’s often and highly recommended in the survey: it’s run “with efficient and friendly charm” – although “if you get one of the small alcoves, you may have to hunt for a waiter”.
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