Restaurant review: Hern, Leeds
Hern is an absolute gem of a restaurant, and easily one of the most exciting places to eat in Leeds!
I first ate at Hern in early March 2020, and quite frankly I’m appalled it’s taken me over 3 years to visit again. I did visit a few times during the lockdowns when they were selling their homemade sourdough to take home, but I was certainly long overdue a meal at Hern.
The restaurant is located in North Leeds in Chapel Allerton, one of my favourite parts of Leeds. It has an incredible food scene with some amazing restaurants / cafes / pubs, but also some wonderful shops like Geroge & Joseph - my go to cheese shop.
Hern is a really small restaurant - when we arrived my friend asked if there was more seating downstairs, but that just takes you to the kitchen. It’s an understated shop front with huge windows, and maybe around 8-10 tables. It’s small, cosy, and so welcoming.
Normally at this stage of the review I’d add in my menu recommendations, but at Hern there is one set menu which changes seasonally. There are options with a fish course and cheese course that you can add in (for an additional cost), but the set menu includes snacks, starter, main and dessert.
There is a small drinks menu with a great selection of wines - most of which are organic. I actually had a glass of wine with the meal, my first wine in over 9 months! And to be honest I can’t remember which we ordered, we asked the waiter what they would recommend, and went with their suggestion.
And although the wine was excellent, the soft drink I ordered next was so so good! I had a rhubarb soda which was quite possibly one of the best soft drinks I’ve ever had. I do love everything rhubarb, and can’t get enough of it when it's in season.
Onto the food… What I like about the set menu is that it takes away the difficult choice of deciding what to order. You can just enjoy the different courses as they are brought out to you. The snacks were especially exciting because the menu just details these as ‘snacks’ so until they are brought out you don’t know what you’re going to get.
Now I can’t remember all the snacks in detail, I’m going to blame this on my ‘chemo brain’, and I really should take notes about what I’m eating if I’m going to write about it! But we had chicory with a mascarpone dip, the most delicious focaccia (the bread at Hern is always 👌🏻), aubergine with za’tar, and crispy fried polenta with grated sheeps cheese. It was a big yes to all of these, so so tasty!
To start we had confit tomato & trout tonnato on toast. The tonnato sauce was creamy and tangy, and it all worked so well together. I don’t think I’ve had tonnato sauce before, and absolutely loved it!
For mains, we had roast chicken, boudin blanc, sprouting broccoli, courgette & wild garlic. There’s not a huge amount to say about this. Like everything else we ate it was just delicious, and so much flavour.
And to finish we had citrus sorbet, oats, & olive oil parfait. This was topped with some stewed rhubarb which was a lovely surprise. And the olive oil parfait was possibly the best thing I ate, the flavour of the olive oil was quite strong but it worked so well in the dish.
We didn’t go for the fish course (which on our visit was sea bass with asparagus & whey sauce), but we did have the cheese course which was Tunworth with rhubarb chutney & rye bread. If you’ve not tried Tunworth before, it's a soft rinded white cheese, much like camembert. It’s a rich but very moorish cheese. And of course I enjoyed the rhubarb chutney.
I think it's worth pointing out that the portions look quite small in the photos, but with the snacks followed by three courses it still feels like a good amount of food, and great value for money at £40 for the set menu.
The service was excellent throughout, with the waiters checking if we were happy with our food and if we needed drinks. And the food was brought out at a nice leisurely pace, so we didn’t feel rushed and had time to enjoy the different courses.
Hern is one of the best restaurants in Leeds, and I won’t be waiting another 3 years before visiting again. If you’ve not been before, book a table now!
Tell me about their new Wednesday bar menu…
Hern is open Wednesday - Saturday, and they’ve just changed up their Wednesday menu to over a bar menu rather than the usual set course options. This menu will still update seasonally, and you can check out the latest menu on their insta. I’m really keen to try this because the menus always look amazing!
My advice is to go with a group of people so you can order everything on the menu
What about dietary requirements?
Hern can cater for most diets, they just ask that you let them know at the point of booking so they can plan for it. They can offer a vegetarian and pescatarian option, but don’t offer a vegan menu yet. When I first visited they were able to cater for Nick’s gluten and dairy free requirements.