The latest bar from the people behind Arc, The Box, Manahatta and The Pit, to name but a few, sees their Harrogate venture come to Leeds, as Banyan opens on City Square.
Banyan has taken up residence in the Old Post Office, alongside Restaurant Bar & Grill, transforming the old Loch Fyne into a destination bar just minutes from Leeds Train Station. It’s a unit that has massive potential, boasting loads of character and an outdoor space perfect for alfresco dining on those rare sunny days, but its previous incarnation failed to hit the mark.
“The first Banyan opened in Harrogate in 2006 and was the first Arc Inspirations bar outside of Leeds.” Martin Wolstencroft, the company’s CEO told us. “Since then, Banyan has set its roots in York and Manchester. Now 10 years later, we’re excited to be back on home turf as we open the doors of Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds’ iconic Old Post Office building, City Square.”
The building was a massive draw for them. The Old Post Office is an iconic building that opens onto one of the city’s most famous public spaces – and it’s as impressive indoors as it is out. They have, of course, given it a complete makeover, so even if you’ve been inside before, you’re in for something a little different next time you visit.
Expect statement light fixtures, wood panelled walls and intricate patterns of copper piping in a venue that’s both rustic and modern. You can see the same subtle style preferences of their other Leeds venues in the design, so if you’re a fan of the Arc Inspirations family, Banyan will not disappoint.
“During the day, Banyan is the ideal place to meet with friends and have a catch up, enjoy some great food,” Wolstencroft told us, but at night, it’s a different story entirely. “The atmosphere becomes more lively and exciting, you can enjoy a great evening meal, whilst also being able to take advantage of the vast cocktail menu and enjoy an evening of dancing with friends.”
Which brings us neatly onto the food and drink offering. The menu is eclectic, to say the least. They haven’t restricted themselves to one cuisine, but instead have explored them all, with a little bit of this and little bit of that, all brought together in one place. On the one hand, you’ve got classics like pies and proper Sunday roasts, but on the other, you’ve got Indonesian Chicken Curry, Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle and Crispy Cajun Chicken Burger.
They’ve also, and we’re big on this, gone to great lengths to cater for diners with very specific dietary requirements. In fact, they’ve got enough gluten-free options to warrant a dedicated menu – and even vegans will find themselves with spoilt for choice with salads, sharing boards and mains like Indonesian Fried Rice.
Being on the cusp of the business district, it’ll come as no surprise that they do breakfasts. From 10am to 12pm, you can bring your favourite clients and colleagues for a bang up breakfast, with a hefty Full English alongside healthier options like granola, because the holiday season is coming and some of us need to prep for the bikinis.
So what should you be tucking into? Well, of course we asked Wolstencroft for his personal recommendations, and this is what he said. “To eat, I’d go for the Portuguese Marinated Half Chicken, it’s got a lovely kick to it, or the King Prawn and Crab Risotto, also a firm favourite. And for me, a trip to Banyan without a Brockmans is a trip not worth having.”
That last one is gin, and they’ve got a decent selection of others for you to choose from as part of their Gin Lover’s Paradise collection, which sees 10 gins matched with the perfect botanicals. Think Hayman’s with blueberries and lemon, Miller’s with bay leaves and cinnamon, and Hendrick’s with cucumber and mint.
That sits alongside an extensive cocktail menu that offers up the likes of the Berry Collins and the Gin Copas, and an equally satisfying selection of beers, ciders and wines.
All in all, Banyan is a great new addition to the city’s food and drink scene, and one that will help to improve the city’s welcome by bringing the iconic Old Post Office back to its crowd-pleasing best. Now all we need is for The Majestic to follow suit.
Banyan Bar & Kitchen, The Old Post Office, 2 City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2ES.