By Steve CrabtreeJuly 2022
The abundance of places to eat in Leeds is one of the reasons I love the city. Street food, fine dining, hearty meals and healthy options… whatever you want, whatever you crave, you will find it here.
And if you’re taking the train to Leeds, you don’t need to venture far from the station to sample the delicious food. The ornately decorated Grand Pacific Restaurant at The Queens Hotel has been open for just over a year since its refurbishment. It’s a wonderful place to dine and a place that leaves you more than satisfied.
My friend and I chose to check the place out early on a Friday night after work. Neither of us had ever eaten here before, and although I had seen him thousands of times over the years, I had never really thought about his restaurant.
” Top of the line “
Entering from the front you are struck by a very elegant bar. Almost Raffles style. And as we walked through the circular main restaurant, we were shown to a table on the side of the circular. Our table consisted of a few tall, enclosed chairs which were different from the Grand Pacific standard when you look around. It was quite an eye-catching table actually, in a very nice restaurant.
We sat down and noticed this quality in everything around us. Cutlery, fixtures, accessories and finishes. Even the menus were top of the line, everything about this place was top of the line.
After asking for table water, we had a look at the menu. The options looked lovely, mainly a spectacular selection of British dishes, with an Asian twist. It was one of those times when you could have had three or four of each course. But, that would just be greedy.
The standout options for me were the Duck Gyoza starter (£6.50) and the Roasted Cod Loin for my main course at £18.95. My friend opted for the Thai fish cake from £6.95 and the Massaman lamb curry (£18.50). We also ordered a bottle of Ribbonwood Savignon Blanc (£34), before sitting down and catching up on life.
We were in Grand Pacific at 6:30pm and there were a few couples, young and old, enjoying a night out. There was also a party of about 12 people in the center of the room. It certainly seemed like a place for everyone.
Our server came back to tell us the Ribbonwood wine was out of stock and offered us a bottle of Cloudy Bay Te Koko Savingnon Blanc instead. This bottle was not offered on the current menu, which I thought was a bit odd, but we tried it and it was nice. So we enjoyed a pre-food glass, while taking the obligatory photos in these chairs!
Quite quickly our starters arrived. The plates were well presented and I had four good sized duck gyoza, all looking delicious. Accompanied by a drizzle of sweet potato miso and hoisin sauce, I had chosen a very tasty dish that tasted as good as it looked. The gyozas were very succulent and generously filled. It was a very pleasant start to the meal.
My friend’s Thai fishcakes came with pickled vegetables, chilli and shiso. Another decent sized portion, neither of us had a disappointing word to say about the starters. He too appreciated his choice and we left no residue of any kind on our plates.
So far, Grand Pacific’s food, ambiance and decor made for a great evening. I say the place is lavish, but you could also call it opulent. It had a modern feel, but with a very maritime and art deco look too. From a service perspective though, I felt things were a bit out of step with the rest of the experience. When we walked in, we were treated and taken to our table very straight forward, and felt neither welcome nor warmth. And table service was pleasant, if slightly distant. It wasn’t bad at all, but it just didn’t seem to match what Grand Pacific was doing everywhere else.
“A Flaming Kick”
After a short wait our main courses arrived and according to our starters they looked fantastic. A delicious aroma emanated from my roasted cod loin, and my friend’s lamb curry had the same going for it.
I had chosen a side dish of Gunpowder potatoes (£3.95) for a fiery kick alongside curried cauliflower, chickpeas and lentil dahl which were part of my choice of fish. The Indian touch of the dish is something special, enhancing the taste, even improving the textures. A succulent piece of cod, the amount of spice was subtle enough not to overpower the fish, but strong enough to be noticed. Usually I’ll have a fish option with a French or Mediterranean twist, but the Asian style is right up there.
On the other side of the table, my friend’s curry came with the potential excess carbs of powdered potatoes, forbidden rice and roti. However, it was cooked so well, there were no worries about it. He added a portion of Oriental Greens for £3.75 and it all warmed up a bit there! There was a very spicy kick coming out of the Lamb Masaman, and the table water came in very handy at that time. It didn’t make the dish uncomfortable. With tender pieces of lamb, it was enjoyable and was a big hit.
“Two beautiful courses”
We’d had two great classes at Grand Pacific, and for some reason our sweet tooth had let us down on that occasion. Maybe it was because we had emptied all our plates of all food? Full to the brim we were, but comfortably.
Next time you are in Leeds, Grand Pacific is worth a visit. It’s easy to forget there’s a restaurant here, but it’s worth trying to remember.
Queens Hotel, Town Square, LS1 5PJ
Monday – Fri 12pm-11pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am-12pm