Last weekend, we went to watch the football in Headingley, and later found ourselves wandering along the streets around dinner time (always dangerous when you’re near so many fantastic dining options in North Leeds!)
As it started to look more and more inevitable that we’d be dining out that evening, we decided that we should really try somewhere new rather than falling back on our old Headingley favourites of Ecco Pizzeria and Jino’s Thai Café.
We struck upon the idea of trying out The Agora, a Greek and Turkish restaurant on the Otley Road. Two things tempted us to make this decision. Firstly, we hadn’t been there before and secondly, they were offering a really good early bird deal that we were early enough to take advantage of.
When we walked in, we were surprised by how light, airy, and comfortable the restaurant was. The Agora doesn’t look that big from the outside but inside it’s big and a really nice space for couples, groups of friends, and families (all groups were represented, in fact, while we were there).
After scouring the menu, we finally decided to share Potato Keftedes, shredded potatoes mixed together with onion, fresh herbs, peppers, before being dipped in breadcrumbs & deep fried. We also opted to try a slightly risky dish for us: Sucuk, special Turkish spicy sausage pan fried with fresh tomatoes and pepper. As soon as the dishes turned up, we knew we were in for a treat. The sausage dish was gorgeous. The texture of the sausage was melt in the mouth and the flavour very distinctive, and the slightly oily (in a good way!) tomato sauce went down a treat with the accompanying bread.
The Potato Keftedes, for me, were the real highlight though. They were crispy, satisfying, and packed full of flavour. Despite being deep fried, they didn’t taste unhealthy; they tasted light and incredly moreish.
Moving on to the mains, I opted for half an aubergine filled with lamb mince kebab and herbs. It sounded like something a bit different and I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t regret my choice; the lamb kebab was tender and filling, and the aubergine had been cooked really well. It wasn’t soggy or pulpy as some aubergine can be; instead it acted as the perfect complement to the texture of the lamb.
Kyle opted for some fresh salmon, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and then chargrilled. I thought it was a risky choice, not being the biggest salmon fan, but it was a generous portion of what looked like perfectly cooked fish. Kyle loved it, and it seemed to do just what you want from a fish dish in terms of keeping things simple and letting the quality of the ingredients do the talking.
Overall, it’s fair to say we were extremely impressed with the quality of the food at The Agora; all of the dishes were filling but without making you feel like you’ve overindulged.
There are clear comparisons to be drawn between Agora and the Olive Tree in Chapel Allerton (in our opinion the best branch of the Greek chain in Leeds). In a way, that’s a bit unfair since we’re so lucky to have both options on our doorstep in North Leeds, but you could perhaps argue that Agora offers slightly more sophisticated, original dishes as both starters and mains, whilst keeping prices reasonable.
Agora also, based on the dishes we ordered, wins in terms of presentation; all of the food was presented with real care and attention and was dotted with nice little touches that you might not usually expect from a small local restaurant.
The level of service also sets Agora apart from its rivals. As we were finishing our mains, the owner (or rather, a very nice lady who we assumed to be the owner!) came to our table to have a chat. She asked if we had visited before, if we were local, and told us all about the new branch of the restaurant opening in Horsforth.
Sometimes the service at the Olive Tree can let it down a little bit, perhaps due to the fact that it seems constantly busy so time pressure on staff is a factor, but the service at Agora only added to the overall experience.
Categories: Restaurant reviews