It has been a long time coming but Kino looks as though it has been well worth the wait. Years of planning and hard work have gone into the redevelopment of the magnificent building providing the most stunning entrance foyer and atrium to the Howard Assembly Room, and we now have a beautiful new restaurant to complete the project.
Anyone who has read entries on this website will realise just how much I love this Grade II* Listed Building and the range of events which take place here. There are the mainstream musicals and opera at The Grand Theatre and the more eclectic performances at Howard Assembly Room. I think that I will love it even more from now on.
Actually I have eaten here before, in the 1960s there was a coffee house and a restaurant called The Green Room and The Rose Lounge in this space, but that was when the buildings in New Briggate were black with soot and the two establishments were far too upmarket to last in their less than salubrious surroundings. Today, what with the regeneration of the street itself, coinciding with the sympathetic restoration of the building, everything looks perfect together.
The restaurant is called Kino as a nod to the building’s past as a cinema and is meant to be a stand-alone venture rather than somewhere only theatre-goers will feel comfortable. Judging by the seating I sampled, feeling comfortable will not be a problem for anyone.
I keep calling Kino a restaurant, and in the months to come, as the menu develops, it most certainly will be, but to get the ball rolling it is concentrating on providing sharing boards of charcuterie, cheese and plant based light dishes. This makes it the ideal place to spend a lunchtime or evening, with friends enjoying casual, local fare accompanied by a great selection of wine, I can recommend the Pinot Noir, from a list curated by Latitude Wines. If you would prefer to effortlessly turn your sharing board into a Ploughman’s then simply order a beer from the selection of Kirkstall Brewery and Northern Monk ranges. OK, there is no pork pie, but the range of cheeses from George & Joseph and/or the Yorkshire produced charcuterie from Lishman’s of Ilkley, will mean that you won’t even notice.
Being Yorkshire produced myself, my first reaction was to wonder how much all of this fine food was going to cost, and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The Local Cheeseboard, Local Charcuterie Board and the Plant Board each come in at £19 for two people. The Cheese and Charcuterie Board is £24. Considering all of the extras and the size of the portions, there is plenty to keep you nibbling away through several drinks – or is it just me who knocks the vino back rather too quickly – whatever! Should you have just popped in to treat yourself to a drink from the bar, or not fancy the full board, or even bed and breakfast, then there is a selection of snacks. Should coffee or tea be your drink of choice then a cake from Bluebird Bakery will go down a treat. As an aside, the bread comes from Leeds Bread Co-op which, up to lockdown, would entail my having to make a weekly pilgrimage from Harrogate to get a loaf of their wonderful Malthouse Sourdough. How’s that for an unsolicited testimonial.
In addition to the bar and restaurant, there is also a room to cater for private parties and business functions. It is equipped with a discretely concealed tv screen should you be going full-on powerpoint presentation. I’ll get my people to contact your people for a window of opportunity and when we get an opening we can run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it.
Not only is the above mentioned room available for hire, but, as Kino is an independent restaurant under the umbrella of Opera North, the flexibility of the seating in Howard Assembly Room means that large parties can be catered for – literally – in that space as well. Are there no limits to this venue’s versatility.
To utilise the large state-of-the-art kitchen which has been installed for when a more comprehensive menu is introduced, there is a series of Pop-up Supper Clubs planned, the first of which is being held in conjunction with MorMor, who will be cooking their Levantine-inspired dishes on Saturday, 23rd July between 5.00pm and 9.30pm
Standard opening times for Kino are; Wednesday and Thursday 5.00pm – 11.00pm and Friday and Saturday noon – 11.00pm. Not only is it a great place to make an already wonderful evening at the Grand or Howard Assembly Room even more special, but it is a stunning venue in its own right.
If I have one piece of constructive criticism, and I obviously do, might I suggest that when the focus group book the private room and draw back the curtain to reveal the tv screen, they interrogate their algorithm to see if it can come up with a menu which doesn’t exclude we singles. Just a thought.
For a look at the menus and to make a reservation for the MorMor Supper Club please go to https://www.kinoleeds.co.uk
Photographs by Stan Graham