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Our tastes are wider than ever, with different cooking styles and flavours intruding into our kitchens. This category has the broadest scope of all, covering all cuisines from all parts of the globe. Merely to provide the food of another country is not enough for our increasingly sophisticated palates. That food has to be cooked to a superb quality and reflect the true character of the native dish.
Lunch is a moveable feast in that it can be a grand affair or something much more unassuming. Different customers require different dining experiences in the middle of the day. What matters to us here is not the opulence or otherwise, but the quality of the product, its value for money and whether it is served both promptly and with a friendly, attentive manner.
Good service counts for a lot. People respect it and remember it. The value of good service in a restaurant cannot be stressed enough. If the food is marvellous and the service is not, the customer will leave unhappy. We want to acknowledge a venue where staff show courtesy, attentiveness and make the customer feel like they matter.
European food is and has always been close to our hearts. It rightly has a reputation for stunning recipes, often challenging our perceptions but ultimately satisfying us. Food ranges from the refined to the rustic. Our winner will serve up the best of Europe but will also have an eye on value, cost and great ambience.
This is one of our most keenly fought categories year on year and as our weekly reviews show, gone are the days when quality restaurants only resided in the city centre. In short, destination pubs are more prolific than ever before. It’s all about value, imagination and atmosphere – which will all be crucial factors when it comes to deciding the winner.
No one is more key to the success of a restaurant than its chef. The flair and skill of this person affects everyone else who works there, as well as the customer. We want to reward a chef who has shown inspiration and a desire to mould a restaurant in their form. We are looking beyond mere cooking skills to a person who can add that extra ingredient to creates a staggering menu and take a restaurant to the next level.
This is a new category for the YEP Oliver Awards this year and has been created to reflect the growing importance of restaurants which lie beyond the border of Leeds. Every year we receive dozens of calls for us to open up the awards to a wider audience and while our focus remains on Leeds, we are proud to recognise quality whatever its setting.
We don’t necessarily want to see highly-polished silver and starched white tablecloths, because that is not always the way of fine dining these days. The very best can be found in many and unexpected formats, but in this category we are looking for one quality – a venue that aspires to excellence in everything it does. We want this winner to strive for the best in surroundings, service, cuisine and presentation.
This is a category where we are open to suggestions. We want to be impressed but have no preconceived ideas. We want to judge the entries on the impression they have made in a relatively short space of time. The bottom line is we want impact, rather than an established record. Last year’s winner was The Man Behind the Curtain, which went on to clinch a Michelin Star. So, no pressure...
We are looking for a venue that best encapsulates the personality of Leeds. We want somewhere vibrant and confident enough to reflect the city it serves. Leeds is thriving, modern and attractive and the winner will have all that in spades. This restaurant will be the kind of place that attracts the best crowd, it will be a place to see and be seen, but above all else, it will offer great food.
It’s difficult to be two things at the same time and excel in both but the hotel restaurant faces the challenge of both enhancing the reputation of the venue in which it sits, and of rising beyond that establishment to create a name in its own right. It is a difficult balance to get right, but our winner will offer something very special in terms of menu and identity.
The cafe/bar is a great phenomenon of our times. We are looking for something with character and vibrancy. Whatever it serves, from a coffee to a glass of wine to a decent bite to eat with an eye ofcost and value for money, we want it to be the very best. A good dash of style helps, as does specific direction and vision.
British food has not always enjoyed the best of reputations but things change. British food at its best is exciting and flavoursome with echoes of long held tradition and respect for ingredients from our own shores. Our winner will deliver this kind of British food - good enough to beat any international cuisine.
We are spoilt with some of the best Indian food in the UK. And in recent years talented chefs have shown us they can take Indian cuisine to a different level, challenging the stereotypes which have long existed. We will be looking for a winner who taps into this growing trend but at the same time preserves the authenticity which has come to be associated with that form of cuisine and its rich, fresh, spicy flavours.
Italian restaurants have found a new home in England and in Leeds, which boasts more than its fair share and gone are the days when all they used to serve was spaghetti bolognese and pizza. While those dishes remain popular, Italian restaurants have proven they can go head to head with the best – they offer great, wholesome food, superb service and provide an atmosphere like no other.
This is a new category added this year to reflect the growing trend in Leeds restaurants delivering food on the move – we’re talking about stalls, pop-ups and, yes, more well established places too which go out of their way to offer customers something to suit their busy lifestyle, without sacrificing quality. It’s quality food which has spread far beyond its country of origin.