Yard & Coop has finally crossed The Pennines and set up shop on Merrion Street with buttermilk fried chicken, craft beer and cocktails.
It was at the back end of 2017 when we first revealed that Yard & Coop were coming to Leeds. And although they’ve been delivering takeaways in the city for a while, they’ve only just opened their restaurant. Here you can tuck into their trademark buttermilk fried chicken, washed down with craft beer and cocktails. It’s the newest addition to Merrion Street and one that’s well worth the wait.
Yard & Coop originally started in Manchester in 2015. They quickly won over the Northern Quarter and Liverpool wasn’t far behind. After successfully making that leap two years ago, they’re now coming east, and it’s something owners Carl and Laura Morris have had in the works for a while.
“We’ve always loved Leeds as a city. It’s vibrant and edgy with lots of great places to visit,” Carl told us. “We wanted to be part of this, and bring our buttermilk fried chicken across the Pennines to the great people of Yorkshire. The venue is perfect for us, as it resides alongside some great venues and has a late night vibe perfect for enjoying our beer and cocktails into the early hours.”
They’ve taken over the former Miah’s Kitchen restaurant on Merrion Street and given it a complete makeover in what’s become their trademark style. Inspired by the films of Wes Anderson, you can expect a mixture of bright and pastel colours, with an eclectic assortment of vintage furniture and comfy leather booths.
But what about the food? It’s all about the chicken, and they’ve gone to great lengths to master their menu. They source all their chickens from a farm in Shropshire, which go from farm-to-fork in 48 hours. They tested over 200 different flavour combinations before settling on their now-renowned recipe. The secret is a 12-hour brining process and fresh crumb made in the restaurant each day. Once that’s done, they’re cooked in pressure fryers that keep it crispy on the outside, but juicy on the inside.
You’re in control here. First you pick your chicken (you can get breast, thigh or drumsticks, there’s even halloumi for veggies), then you choose your sauce. They have different ones for you to choose from, with classics like buffalo, ranch and blue cheese, alongside their own creations like Dr Pepper BBQ and The Bee’s Knees hot sauce. The final decision is your fries – they come with chicken gravy, chip shop curry or cheese sauce, but you can also push the boat out with sweet potato or salt and pepper.
If you fancy something different, they have a selection of large plates. There’s a Bao Bun Box to give their fried chicken an Asian-twist, you can even get a creative version of a Sunday roast with the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. Prefer burgers? There are four to choose from, like the Double Mac which comes stacked with mac ’n’ cheese, or you can keep it simple with a bowl of wings or drumsticks.
Carl has a top tip if you don’t know where to start, “The Monkey Fingers were one of the first items we created. These buttermilk fried chicken tenders are served in a basket with two of our signature sauces – the bees knees, which is our signature hot sauce, and Dr Pepper BBQ, a sweet and sticky favourite. They’re the perfect accompaniment with a pint whilst sat at our bar, or to be enjoyed as part of a bigger meal.”
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beer – popular lagers like Estrella and Peroni sit alongside a host of quality craft brews from Beavertown, Delirium and Brooklyn. Prefer cocktails? They’ve got loads of them, but there’s a distinct focus on gin-based concoctions like the Jimi Hendrix, a mix of Hendrick’s gin, tequila and elderflower tonic, with blueberries, lime and rosemary. And if you’re off the booze, you can always go for one of their luxury shakes, which are made with ice cream.
Yard & Coop has a late licence at weekends, so it’s going to stay open until 4am. It’ll come alive with party tunes as they move from evening into night, so Merrion Street’s many revellers now have a new place to go.
Yard & Coop, 6-8 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ. It’s open 12pm to late every day, with a license until 4am on Friday and Saturday.