Festive menus have landed at restaurants, hotels, bars and cafes, meaning we can enjoy the flavours of Christmas weeks ahead of the best day of the year!
It’s the most delicious of seasons for foodies as chefs pull out all the stops to create menus that showcase their creativity, culinary skills and industry expertise.
This year, the festive food offerings in Leeds are utterly superb! Leeds’ diverse hospitality scene has something to offer everyone this December. From festive fine dining and opulent afternoon teas to boozy bottomless brunches and speciality street foods, there are countless tasty-looking treats filling our social media newsfeeds and enticing us to indulge!
Those seeking somewhere to enjoy a quiet yet sophisticated festive dining experience, as so many of us do during the lead-up to Christmas, are well catered for in the city centre. Most of Leeds’ best-rated restaurants have recently launched their Christmas menus and they look and sound divine.
One such restaurant is Grand Pacific at the iconic Queens Hotel in Leeds. Offering a decadent festive afternoon tea alongside a Christmas dining menu of starters, mains, desserts and cocktails all created with their unique pan-Asian twist, slots are bound to be filling up fast.
The new festive offerings at Grand Pacific were launched last Monday and I was lucky enough to be invited over to try them out the very next day. I visited Grand Pacific at Queens Hotel earlier this year and enjoyed the most incredible afternoon tea. Served on opulent tiered platters and comprising a stunning array of quintessentially British components alongside a number of Asian-influenced treats, it was by far one of the most delicious afternoon teas I have ever had.
Having only recently undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment, Queens Hotel, with its pristine and elegant Art Deco-inspired interiors provided the perfect setting for a refined afternoon of indulgence. My mother was my plus-one last time and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience so I invited her to join me once again last Tuesday.
The fixed-price three-course Christmas dining menu at Grand Pacific features something to sit most palates and is available all day. Starters and mains include meat, fish and vegetarian options and there are three delicious desserts to choose from too.
At £33.95 for three courses, I think it’s pretty reasonably priced. Although probably the most competitive time of year for restaurants, it can be incredibly costly to dine out. With budgets being a tad tighter this year for the majority of us, value for money is more important than ever.
As I always do when reviewing restaurants, I ensured I ordered different dishes from those ordered by my dining companion. My mother chose the King Prawn and Noodle Salad to start, Traditional Roast Turkey for her main and then the Christmas Pudding Cake for dessert. Pretty traditional choices but entirely expected from my 75-year-old mother whose eating preferences have remained the same for as long as I can remember.
My choices were the Pan Fried Chicken Gyoza starter, the Glazed Duck Leg main and the Dark Chocolate Mousse for Dessert.
To drink, we both opted for cocktails. I stuck with the festive theme and requested recommendations from the restaurant’s brilliant cocktail connoisseur who described each new option with great enthusiasm. I settled on a rather dreamy concoction based upon the popular sweet, Werther’s Originals.
Creamy, packed with caramel flavours and ever-so-luxurious, it was a beautiful way to begin our festive food experience. My mother chose to order one of their signature cocktails; the Rose & Lychee Martini. We both enjoyed this one alongside our afternoon tea during the summer and it was one she has been eager to have again ever since.
Our starters arrived promptly and were both wonderful! Plump and juicy king prawns were nested upon a delicately flavoured bed of noodles, scattered with exotic mango, glistening gems of pomegranate and crushed wasabi peas. A pleasantly light starter which my mother adored.
My pan-fried parcels of minced chicken with Eastern spices were exquisite! I love a good gyoza and have eaten my fair share since first discovering the little half-moons of heaven at one of Leeds’ top Korean spots last year. These were exceptionally good and the accompanying truffle mayonnaise and shredded leeks accentuated the unmistakably Asian flavours of the filling but gave the dish a lovely seasonal twist.
When we first arrived, we were both concerned that we wouldn’t be able to eat much. Neither of us had much of an appetite. Those glorious starters were all we needed to awaken our tastebuds and get our digestive juices flowing!
We were ravenous and our main courses couldn’t arrive soon enough. As with the starters, they arrived within a reasonable time frame and were brought to us by the consistently professional, friendly and attentive Pete.
All the main courses on the Christmas Menu at Grand Pacific are served with roast potatoes and maple-glazed root vegetables. We expected one dish of each to share between us but, quite surprisingly, we were presented with separate portions.
Now, I cannot stress enough how much I love roast potatoes. My little boy shares my love for these Sunday dinner staples and would be mortified if he had to go a whole week without them.
I had high hopes for the roasties at Grand Pacific and they didn’t disappoint. Bearing the optimum level of crispness on the outside and possessing a perfectly fluffy centre, they were delicious! Frankly, an anaemic-looking roast potato that doesn’t crunch when you cut into it can completely ruin a roast dinner so I was more than a little relieved.
The vegetables, which were beautifully seasoned and offered a subtle hint of sweetness from the maple glaze, were equally as delicious. The perfect, seasonally appropriate accompaniments for our meat-based mains.
Now, I wouldn’t normally order duck. I don’t dislike it; duck just isn’t one of my favourite meats. I probably haven’t eaten enough of it to have developed an intense fondness for it but was very much looking forward to trying Grand Pacific’s Spiced Plum Hoi Sin glazed leg.
The sweet and slightly spicy glaze upon the skin was beautifully balanced by the richness of the meat underneath, which was so tender it parted from the bone at the slightest touch. The accompanying bok choi which had been cooked so it retained its freshness, added a lovely additional texture to what was an all-around delicious alternative to the traditional Christmas dinner.
My mother was presented with a rather substantial portion of succulent turkey breast. If you’ve eaten Christmas dinners out quite regularly, you’ll know how much they vary in quality. Turkey is often either too dry or unpleasantly rubbery and serving sizes are rarely generous.
The turkey at Grand Pacific was delightful; moist, flavoursome and drizzled with just the right amount of gravy. The pork stuffing which was discreetly hidden underneath the thick slices of turkey breast provided those flavours of the season we have all become accustomed to in Britain. A really well-done festive feast of rather large proportions.
To help wash down our chosen desserts, my mother and I both ordered a cocktail from the festive menu. The Spiced Pear Daquiri was divine and paired with both our desserts quite magnificently. Slightly sour and offering subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg after the initial flavour of delicate pear, we savoured every last sip of our beautifully crafted seasonal cocktails.
My mother’s Christmas Pudding Cake, which proudly protruded from a sea of glistening coconut rum custard was another example of Grand Pacific applying its unique twist to traditional dishes.
The coconut rum was certainly noticeable but it didn’t overpower the cake which was jam-packed with dried fruits and winter spices. My mother adores Christmas Pudding and this dessert offered all the associated flavours without the heaviness that leads to those post-Christmas dinner dribble naps.
My mother’s dessert was delicious but I still don’t think it matched up to the one I was presented with. My chocolate mousse was reminiscent of the filling inside a luxuriously indulgent chocolate truffle. The intensity of the rich chocolate was balanced by a generous squirt of fresh vanilla cream, a drizzle of miso caramel and a scattering of chewy honeycomb.
I don’t have the sweetest tooth and I am far from being a chocoholic but, for me, this was a dessert I am unlikely to forget in a hurry. The Spiced Pear Daquiri I had chosen made it all the more enjoyable so I highly recommend ordering them together should you choose to visit this season.
Once again, I was utterly blown away by the service and the food at Grand Pacific. From the moment we stepped into the hotel’s atmospheric Art Deco bar area which was adorned with opulent Christmas decorations to the second our final plates were cleared, our whole experience was faultless. A huge thank you to each and every staff member who played a part in making this such a memorable visit.
This review was written and published following an invitation to dine at Grand Pacific, Leeds. An invitation does not guarantee coverage on our publication or any other publications owned by Roaring Media Ltd – we only publish reviews following positive experiences, whether we have been invited to dine or made a personal reservation. The brands we work with have no editorial control over our content