Sous Le Nez

The literal translation of Sous le Nez is “under the nose”.

Is this jewel of a French bistro and wine bar, so named as it is located in a basement in Leeds city centre, or is it because as soon as you walk in, your mouth starts to water from the aromas emanating from the restaurant and kitchen. Either way this is definitely an eatery that deserves a second visit and that is exactly what we did.

Our first visit was a Friday evening in December. Having headed to Leeds one Friday afternoon for a spot of Christmas shopping, we tried to book a table for the evening. The wine bar was heaving with suited city types having a celebratory Christmas drink. In the bistro it was no less busy with crackers being pulled and party hats adorning heads. We managed to procure a table for the evening. On our return later, we were shoe-horned into a small gap at the side of the bar, we were however grateful they had found us a table. The food was amazing and the service, despite the bistro remaining packed, was attentive.

When six months later we decided to have a night out in Leeds for my birthday, it was not difficult to decide where I wanted to eat.

On a balmy June evening, it was definitely less busy, the wine bar was sparsely populated, but the bistro was full. We were presented with a bar menu and opted for a celebratory bottle of champagne. The list was extensive and we settled on Perrier Jouet. We were shown to our table in a little nook but this time there was ample room to enjoy a comfortable evening.

The champagne arrived at our table and once we were ensconced with our drinks, we were presented with the menu. Richard chose Roast French Black Pudding, Onion Tatin, Apple Chutney, Chorizo Jus and I had Ballotine of Pigeon Breast, Apricot & Golden Raisins, Wrapped in Bayonne Ham, Sweet Onion Jam, Toasted Brioche.

Visually the starters looked amazing, and tasted just as good.

For our main course, I had Pan Fried Calves Liver, Bacon & Parsnip Rosti, Homemade Black Pudding,  Caramelized Onion & Marsala Jus. At home, no one will eat liver, so I always find it a treat to have it when dining out and as it was served pink, just how I like it. It was perfect.

Richard chose Duo of Pork. Pork Fillet Topped with Dijon Mustard, Pink Peppercorns & Watercress, Wrapped in Bayonne Ham and Baked in Filo Pastry. Belly Pork Crackling, Green Apply Chutney, Red Wine Jus.

The meal was accompanied by Fresh Wilted Spinach & Peas, Buttered Green Beans Tossed in Chilli & Garlic and Dauphinoise Potatoes. Once again the presentation and the taste of our food was authentically French.

Rather unlikely for the two of us, we passed on dessert, feeling too full to do them justice.

Not only was the food excellent, but the service was attentive and first class.

As we left the Bistro and climbed the steps back to street level, it seemed unreal that we were surfacing in Leeds, rather than into a Parisian street. Sous le Nez brings all the charm of a French bistro in the heart of Leeds and it’s is definitely easier to get to.

The only thing left for us to do, is to plan our return visit.

Address: Sous Le Nez, Quebec House, Quebec Street, Leeds. LS1 2HA.

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