New Banyan Spinningfields is a top spot for drinks – but the food is a winner too

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With restaurants popping up all over the city recently, it’s becoming tougher to draw in the crowds and give diners exactly what they want.

Banyan’s brand new 7,000 sq ft venue in Spinningfields offers a little bit of something for everyone. It has allowed the Arc Inspirations team – also the people behind new bar Manahatta – to go even bigger and, dare I say, better than their original site in the Corn Exchange.

I got the opportunity to head on down there to try some of the food on offer.

With an exquisite gin bar, the Empress Bar, upstairs and lots of weekend entertainment from DJs to live music, the main focus of the new venue seems to be drinking and late nights.

An impressive, white marble bar dominates the ground floor serving up pretty much any drink you can think of with endless amounts of choice on display.

There’s a fantastic cocktail menu that has plenty of delicious concoctions on offer, all of which are beautifully served. Very tasty, I must say – especially after a lovely afternoon of sampling.

But we couldn’t let the food get overlooked because the menu is delightful – what I can only describe as a globetrotting menu.

The kitchen has two menus that take diners through the day, starting with a full breakfast and brunch menu featuring smashed avocado and poached egg, American-style pancakes or a full English to name a few.

The main menu ranges from lighter bites such as the Yoga Bowl and a Bang Bang Chicken Salad to grill favourites such as the Banyan burger and ribeye steak. And if that wasn’t enough, there are more hearty type foods available such as steak and ale pie, Thai red chicken curry and chicken schnitzel.

There are various sharing platters available too and an array of mouth-watering sandwich options, all of which are served with fries. Winning.

And a family favourite roast dinner is also served up on a Sunday. So you can see, there really is something for even the fussiest of palates.

We started off with the beetroot and goat’s cheese bruschetta and the crab and smoked salmon crispbreads – both beautifully presented and very Instagrammable for people who like to document everything they eat.

More importantly, they tasted fantastic. Red and golden beets served with goats cheese, tomatoes and basil on toasted sourdough and crab and smoked salmon served with avocado, sour cream and a Bloody Mary dressing.

The mains are definitely the crowd pleasers. The rich, perfectly cooked steak and ale pie is served with creamy mash and seasonal greens.  There’s nothing worse than a partly-filled pie, so I’m pleased to be able to report that this was jam-packed to the rafters with Swaledale rare beef, then topped with a rich, dark ale gravy. Mmm.

For some contrast, we also ordered the CrossFit Burger. What is that, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a perfectly balanced meal for anyone trying to cut back on the carbs. Basically, it’s a burger without a bun stacked with an egg, cheese and a generous side salad including avocado, and some chunky sweet potato wedges.

Dessert didn’t disappoint either – salted caramel chocolate torte and a mixed berry cheesecake finished off our meal perfectly. I can’t speak on behalf of the other desserts but if these two are anything to go by, I can’t see them being a let down.

Not like your usual light and airy cheesecake, this vanilla pud was creamy and much thicker, making it very difficult to finish. But we still managed to, of course.

When I first heard the name Banyan – it’s an Indian fig tree or loose flannel undergarment in case you’re wondering – I expected Indian or pan-Asian-style food, so I was surprised to see such a broad and eclectic menu.

In the past, I’ve often found that when too much is on offer it seems to be a case of quantity over quality. Not here. Banyan Spinningfields is definitely a new contender on the scene. It’s stylish and reasonably priced – and I can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on and see what the nightlife has to offer.

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