Featured Jobs

Leeds Forum

Food Review Dough Bistro

Tom Goodhand struggles to find fault with this suburban modern European-style bistro

Food Review: Dough Bistro

“What did you think of the meal?” the chef asks at the end of the evening. “And please feel free to be critical, it’s helpful to receive criticism.” We um and ah a little, but summon up nothing.

Only next morning at my desk could I think of any complaint. Perhaps the plates that the main courses were served on could have been heated to help the meat retain its heat a little better. That was it.

Dough Bistro is, arguably, one of the finest restaurants in Leeds, and yet it’s not a household name for many Loiners – not even those living in nearby Headingley. Situated in the north Leeds suburb of West Park – just north of Headingley – Dough is a compact, modern-looking eatery building situated on an unassuming commercial corner of Spen Lane.

The restaurant fittings are simple – wooden floors, exposed brickwork, pine tables and chairs and a blackboard boasting the impressive awards that head chef/owner Luke Downing has scooped up since taking over the restaurant in 2007.

Despite having a drinks licence (and a very pleasant house red at £3.50 a glass), Dough allow customers to bring their own bottles of wine or Champagne (but not beer) to accompany their meal, just as an act of kindness it seems. While most bring your own booze restaurants are simple, stodgy affairs, Dough stands up as a real quality dining experience, and while the prices reflect the fine standard of the food (£4.95-£8.95 for a starter; £10.95-£16.95 for a main), if you’re financially constrained, all you need to do is bring your own bottle of wine and suddenly that final bill looks much more reasonable.

Each evening, Dough’s menu is drawn up by Downing, reflecting his day’s food hunting, and what’s in season. Its scope and attention to detail is startling. Meats on offer include ostrich, venison and swordfish, and dishes are served with as diverse ingredients as onion tempura, pomegranate salsa and dandelion leaves.

The eight or nine tables (which can be supplemented by the similarly sized bar and deli next door) are relatively quiet on the Wednesday evening when we visit, and the lack of hubbub from customers means you can hear the chef as he goes about his concoctions for the evening. The waitress for the evening sits us down, offers us a drink and then leaves us to contemplate the seven options available for each course – making a decision is quite a task.

I start with a medium rare sirloin of short-horn beef and wild mushroom salad served on wild rocket, fennel, olive tapenade and blue cheese (£6.50) and my partner has a home-grown organic onion soup served with olive tapenade, gruyere crouton, onion tempura and coriander olive oil (£4.95). Both dishes are excellent: my sirloin salad is served cold, but the beef is pink and tender, sitting beautifully alongside the pungent cheese, while the onions forming the base of my partner’s richly flavoured soup show off their credentials as home-grown and organic.

A brief rest comes between the main course and starter – in the form of a palate cleansing (and complimentary) home-grown plum and apple sorbet. A perfect refreshing break leads into the delivery of my free-range duck breast served on pea puree, rocket, pumpkin seeds, blue cheese, redcurrant coulis, gherkin and crispy onion (£14.95). It may sound fussy in its complexities, but all the flavours combine so perfectly that you’re never really aware of each individual element, instead appreciating the dish as a whole.

My partner’s main course is equally multi-faceted: seared wild swordfish on a bed of crunchy and pickled vegetables with pomegranate salsa, langoustine and balsamic syrup (£16.95). The real winner in the combinations is the softly sharp syrup combined with the soft swordfish flesh.

The portions are sensible; big enough to make the plates look full, not so big as to leave you uncomfortably stuffed – even when you chuck in a side of roast potatoes (£2.95) and organic seasonal vegetables (£2.95). It’s not pretentiously stingy and, like the flavours and ingredients on show, sits comfortably between being hearty and remarkably fancy.

It will come as no surprise to announce that the desserts are, well, great: sweet yet tangy lime and black pepper crème brûlée cheesecake on cookie biscuit base with red current coulis and white chocolate crisp (£4.50) and a homely, hearty organic lemon loaf on crème anglaise with marmalade ice cream and blueberry coulis (£4.95).

A satisfying end to an astounding meal that manages to be incredibly impressive, yet never even gets close to being pretentious.

Posted on Wednesday 27th October 2010


293 Spen Lane, West Park, Leeds, LS16 5BD

Email this article

Comments on Food Review: Dough Bistro

Comment by Jammie Upton

Posted on Tue 1st Feb 11 10:08 pm

Dough is without doubt my favourite restaurant in Leeds. It is on par with any Michelin star restaurants I’ve visited. Dough bistro is Simply the best Leeds restaurant. I can’t think of any other that brings together ingredients from Yorkshire in such a dynamic and creative way. Great review and dough bistro deserves all it’s accolades and praise.

Add your comment

Interact with Leeds Guide

Enter competitions, leave comments and receive our free fortnightly newsletter...

Current Issue


Popular this week