Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Nathan Lane
Wine Correspondent
1:01 AM 16th March 2024

Fine Dining: French Chic At Bavette

Wine correspondent Nathan Lane joined Group Editor Andrew Palmer for a lunchtime meal at Bavette, where they savoured gloriously cooked French gastronomy.

A French bistro can be a wonderful thing as Nathan Lane writes. It should be a reliable neighbourhood bastion of good food, simply cooked.

In France, the bistro is a social institution where people come together to enjoy food and each other’s company. A bistro menu will offer a range of well-sauced meat or fish with ample baguettes to mop up the sauces, all accompanied by a good, reasonably-priced wine.

Horsforth is lucky to have Bavette open on Town Street. The cosy venue is well designed, with tables close enough to create buzz without feeling like you’re playing a childhood game of sardines.

Bavette embraces all that is good about the French bistro with a small menu of typical French favourites with quality ingredients. It has found an audience in North Leeds, as it was busy on a chilly Friday lunchtime in March.

The meal started with venison and pork pate en croute with Earl Grey jelly. A thick, crusty pastry provided the ideal accompaniment to rich venue and chunky pork. Cornichons accompanied it to give a little extra bite. It’s a rich and rewarding dish that provides well-balanced flavours.

The main course was a perfectly cooked pork chop with mashed potatoes and heritage carrots. The pork was juicy and tender, with crispy fat for a little crunch. The carrots were full of flavour, and the mash was creamy.

The meal was accompanied by a young Beaujolais-Village from Elisa Guerin. The juicy gamay grapes were an excellent accompaniment to the lunch, with lots of cherry and red berry fruit and a hint of spice.

The highlight of the meal was the crème brûlé. The thick sugar topping required a hefty tap to break before enjoying the creamy vanilla custard. Bavette serves this dish with tart Yorkshire rhubarb to offset some of the dish's sweetness.

The service was friendly and prompt and added to the whole experience. Bavette is a great addition to Leeds and brings a little bit of Paris to the scene.

Form an orderly queue.

Andrew Palmer adds that Bavette mixes the contemporary, whether it be the elegant décor or menu, with a lovely, cheerful, and warm ambience, cultivating a taste of authenticity.

Nathan commented that the tables are well spaced, and it is this commodious feel that allows conversations to take place easily without fuss. Making it ideal for a business lunch or catching up with friends, and let's not forget that intimate dinner for two. 

I opted for Pork Belly Rillons, Frisée Salad, and Ravigot Sauce to start. The chunks of pork cooked supremely in their own fat, with plenty of flavour and complemented by a traditional Ravigot sauce well-seasoned with the flavours of the capers, mustard, and herbs, adding a frisson of piquancy. 

When in Bavette, it would be churlish not to choose the popular eponymous steak, cooked as one would expect medium-rare. The excellent-quality meat comes from Skipton-based Swaledale Butchers. A large serving of frites chips, a baby gem salad, and a delicious shallot sauce accompanied the traditional Bavette à l'Échalote.

Then the pièce de résistance was the Chocolate Sabayon Tart with Fromage Blanc Sorbet. The sorbet on its own is divine and so moreish. The light chocolate mousse with a percolating flavour sat on a wonderfully crispy base and was quite delectable. 

French sophistication.

Bavette 4-6 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 4RJ

Wednesday - Saturday dinner, Friday - Sunday lunch