Disclosure: I was invited to review the restaurant so we ate for free. As you may well know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I write genuine, honest reviews!
I’d spotted a few posters around Leeds so I’d been eagerly awaiting the opening of Bird&Beast as for me, it ticked a couple of boxes: rotisserie chicken (always a winner) and the fact that said chicken is locally sourced and free-range. The latter is the main reason I won’t eat in that popular Portuguese chicken chain, so it’s nice to know I can go out for chicken and not have to question my moral values.
The restaurant has a Spanish kind of theme to it – the way the chicken is served with lemon, the desserts. It’s not expressly declared anywhere, you just get the feel. And that’s coupled with the fact that the executive chef and director Simon Shaw also owns El Gato Negro in Ripponden.
We were recommended a whole chicken between us, with one of their seasonal salads and a side. We tried the orange and cashew salad and sweet potato fries, because I’m a total sucker for them. A whole chicken was actually quite a lot for us – normally when I make roast chicken we eat it over a couple of days, so we were totally stuffed!
The chicken, when served comes sliced into manageable pieces, so it’s easy to eat. The meat just slides off the bone and is incredibly juicy and flavourful. That’s because their chickens are double marinated, oven cooked to keep moisture in the meat then cooked on a rotisserie with charcoal and cherry wood chips. There’s a couple of sauces on the table and also a huge selection of sauces (including Nando’s peri-peri, make of that what you will) to choose from that are located on special sauce tables in the restaurant.
I should also mention how delicious the salad was – I am not a big fan of orange in savoury food – I severely dislike duck a l’orange. But this salad, with crunchy cashews, heat from chilli slices and juicy orange segments was the perfect light accompaniment to the poultry. It’s reasonably pricy at £8.95 but we’ll get to that shortly.
The sweet potato wedges tasted fab too and were really filling – definitely only needed one portion between us with all the other food we had!
As I said, we were very stuffed but I can ALWAYS make room for dessert. Although Mr LTT is now dairy/lactose intolerant (more on that coming soon) he tried the Greedy Goat ice cream which he loved! They’d sold out of a lot of the flavours but hopefully next time we go they’ll have more in stock.
I tried the Creme Catalana which is like a creme brulee with orange rind. It was warm and rich and absolutely amazing. Good caramelised sugar top on it too – one of my favourite things is breaking through to the pudding underneath! Although I was full, I was told I must try the lemon posset with mulched blackberries. I took three spoonfuls and thought I might burst if I ate another spoonful, so it ended up being my lunch the next day. It is very filling so would recommend two to share it and although there’s a tartness from the lemon, it is quite sweet too!
I was a bit concerned when we arrived at 7.30pm that it was very quiet. There were only a couple of other tables occupied, but by the time we left it was pretty packed with sizeable groups of people trying it out. The decor is very of the moment – exposed overhead cabling, parquet floor, exposed brick, you get the gist. I guess the only issue that it has is the location: The first floor of Central Arcade (that recently renovated shopping precinct between Briggate and Central Road), so it won’t get footfall unless people know it’s there. That said, it’s right near Little Tokyo and Mrs Atha’s so maybe I’m wrong. Given how great the food is, word will get out soon enough!
If we’d just had a main each (whole chicken + salad + side) and a soft drink each it would’ve equated to just over £15 which is extremely good value for money, and competitive with that other chicken restaurant. We’ll definitely be going back for another taste soon – especially as they have a rather good-looking roast dinner selection on Sundays!
Bird & Beast can be found in Central Arcade, Leeds. Or you can visit the Bird & Beast website.