Kendell’s Bistro review
Myself and the fiancé have seen each other about 3 times in the last month, no joke. First he was away for work, then away for a stag week (I know. Still reeling from jealousy), then I had a hen weekend, then I had some work as an extra…we’ve just been non-stop busy. And with the wedding coming up, there’s always stuff to do.
We also realised that we haven’t actually celebrated my getting a new job! I don’t start it until after the wedding, so obviously it hasn’t been a priority.
And when you’ve got lots going on, it’s so hard to stay at home and have a ‘treat’, or a relaxed night in – there’s always washing to do, something to clean or an email to reply to.
So we decided we should go out, and I’d heard a lot about Kendell’s.
You can see that a night out was clearly what I needed – that look of bemused contentedness replaced the harassed frown pretty quickly!
Just down by the BBC and Leeds College of Music, Kendell’s is tucked away and non-ostentatious on the outside. Being faced with the daily changing menu scrawled all over the walls on blackboards (what a good sign), it took us a good 20 minutes to decide that in fact, yes, we did want to prix fixe menu. For £25, you can get a starter, main, dessert and 1/2 bottle of wine. It’s a fabulous deal, and so tempting when most of the mains come in at around £16-£25.
As we were ostensibly celebrating my new job, my sensible fiancé thought ahead, and told the restaurant on booking. It was lovely to be treated to a glass of bubbles to celebrate! The restaurant was packed, despite it being only a Thursday – there was the hubbub of a weekend. It was full of couples and parties, the low-lit, candle-filled air filled with the buzz of happy campers.
We always order something different, and then swap half way through (thus maximising your ability to taste the most dishes)! So we had boudin noir on an apple purée, and french onion soup for our starters.
Without doubt, this was the best french onion soup I’ve ever had. The stock base was so rich – I think it was red wine-based. There was certainly an alcoholic depth beneath the onions which didn’t go amiss alongside the cheesy, crouton-y goodness!
The boudin noir was charming and a classic – apple and black pudding being such a perfect combination. We were off to a great start!
For mains, I opted for the boeuf bourgignon, and the fiancé erroneously went for the salmon en croute. The boeuf bourgignon had a great taste, though I was confused that the meat hadn’t been cooked in the stew – it appeared to have been added afterwards. I’m sure the base stew was made with a richly meaty stock from the bones, but I enjoy the falling-apart meat of a slow-cooked bourgignon. The flavours were indisputably great, though, with a lovely soft mash and beans wrapped in bacon (I am normally not a huge fan of flobby bacon – I prefer a nice crisp piece of streaky bacon or pancetta, but the smokey flavour of this perfectly complemented the dish).
To the salmon en croute. I have to say, I am just not a massive fan of cooked salmon. Smoked salmon – yes. Cooked salmon – well. No. I’ve just rarely enjoyed it. It is often cooked so that the albumin sits unappetisingly on the surface, like some unfit salmon has just been to the gym and really suffered. Those white, displeasing blobs sweated out. Eurgh. Plus it can taste metallic and mineral-y, at the best of times. I just don’t enjoy it.
Unfortunately, this didn’t change my mind. Just metallic. The dauphinoise potatoes which accompanied it were great – full of garlicky goodness, thinly sliced and buttery. But no. I would not have opted for the salmon. But I might be being unfair, due to my lack of natural affinity for the poor sucker.
By this time, we’d had a glass of fizz each, and then a (very healthy-sized) half bottle of wine in a carafe each – it was generously pushing the 1/2 litre mark, actually. Which obviously equates to us having a great time.
Dessert comes around. Now I am a fan of French food, but I don’t often cook it. It’s just so, so rich with butter and cream, and I am definitely more of an Italian cook, using olive or rapeseed oil as my cooking fat the majority of the time.
So we were unaccustomed to how massively full you get after a meal like this. Dessert rolled around, and we were so stuffed. But we bravely soldiered on! Pete went for the berry sorbet, above, which was a great palette cleanser. I went for the profiterole.
I shouldn’t have. My mum makes the best choux pastry in the world, and uses normal dark or milk chocolate, melted on its own, to drizzle over the top. That is how I like profiteroles. These were too clarty (when you can taste the fat as a coating on the roof of your mouth, you know? Yes, in Chesterfield we have a word for this sensation…) and the chocolate was that drizzley dark kind, that I have never been a fan of. It tastes cheap, but it probably isn’t. So, no. I was not a massive profiterole fan.
They brought us a small plate of petit fours, just to completely do us in, and I’m afraid I didn’t even have the strength to lift my bloated arm to take a picture of them. These were bloomin great – a lovely macaron, and a pistachio-y cake being victorious. Much better than the profiterole, and a real treat, because who makes petit fours at home?
So that was that! Date night = success at Kendell’s! Next time I think I would opt for a main course from the a la carte menu (the monk fish looked and sounded spectacular, as did the venison and countless other options) even though the prix fixe is just such ridiculously good value. That way my stagger home might have been more dignified and less rotund. We had a really special night, and the starters and petit fours were fabulous. It was a really authentically French-feeling experience, and we’ll be back.
(When we’ve worked off the calories)
What do you think of Kendell’s Bistro? x