Thursday, 28 August 2014

Southern Cross Cafe - Edinburgh

I'm going to start off by saying - don't visit this place.

Just off the Royal Mile on a curved road up a slopping hill lies Southern Cross Cafe, or as it's now abbreviated to 'SX Cafe'. 

It's near the Royal Mile, it gets the footfall, it doesn't really need to put the effort in to make people return as it will get more than enough one time visitors to keep it going. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Dogs - Hanover Street, Edinburgh

Note to readers: this post may contain expletives. (It does).

The Dogs on Hanover Street in Edinburgh was recommended many times over on twitter when I asked where I should go when visiting for the first time. With so many notifications coming through recommending them it would be rude not to book a visit.

We booked a table early (6pm) Sunday evening knowing that we had an evening full of shows to see at The Fringe Festival. There was no problem booking a table even during this busy period. I was surprised as I left it quite late too, two weeks prior to our visit.

I'm not sure where the concept came from, whether the owner simply just loves dogs... or whether he actually wanted it to be called 'The Dogs Bollocks' but for obvious reasons couldn't and decided to imply it instead and then play upon the theme... this is how I would like to imagine it happened.

The Dogs appears to be based on the Gastro pub scene, informal dining, using British ingredients to create good wholesome British food.

The decor is dog themed (but not over the top), with stone dogs greeting you at the door (not literally - they are stone) and a huge dog (is it a Labrador?) looking over you as you eat, plus plenty more.

We were greeted by a slim man in cowboy boots and shown to a table next to the window. Water and menus were brought for us and we set about deciding what we would like.

There are two rooms and we were seated in the main room with the bar. A cleanly finished room with mismatch furniture and interesting details to keep you amused.. note the devil like bust hanging from the wall.

It was fairly quiet but then it was early... but then it was also festival season in Edinburgh.. but then it is away from the main venues too.

The main man (the owner possibly) had a dry sense of humour, he asked if sir had told the lady how nice she looked tonight (the lady being me - I know I was shocked too), when D replied yes he replied back with 'good, I don't have to then'.

To drink D ordered a bottle of Barney's beer, he chose the Good Ordinary Pale Ale, Barney's is brewed in Edinburgh although this one uses English and American hops to get its citrus and pine notes. (Totally stole that from the website).

I ordered a carafe of red wine. Because I'm greedy. Because I was on holiday. Because when you're on holiday you're supposed to get drunk.

I had to dish some out to D at the end of the meal.

It was the cheapest carafe on the menu - the Varales Tintto from Spain.

D and I, clearly being of similar palate, both favoured the duck dish and so decided to go for this as a starter as neither one of us wished to lament and choose something different.

A word of caution here. It's served almost raw. I'm pretty sure they just waived it at the pan or just let the skin of the duck touch the pan feather lightly. It was so blue it was blue (well purple) and cold in parts. This made it quite hard to dissect with a normal knife and fork. The skin for me was the best bit. The fattiest bit (what do you mean scales when you say I've put on half a stone on my holidays). The beetroot and pine nuts was something I've never had paired with duck but it did go very well.

For mains again both me and D spotted something we wanted that was the same. Sigh. However this time we could order it as a dish for two. Hurrah!

We chose the pork and butter bean stew with crispy pork belly slice served with an oatmeal and bacon stuffing. It was basically pork rolled in pork stuffed with pork and some oats sat gladly on a bed of beans and more pork.

Oh yeah...  because we were on holiday and being fatties we also ordered some beef dripping chips which you can see in the background.

The pork was pretty good, pretty fatty, no seriously there was massive chunks of fat which we removed and didn't eat. I'd like to keep a few extra hours of my life thank you. The crispy pork belly was blissful. The massive butter beans in tomato sauce (made good dipping for chips) did go well with the pork but such a filling dish we could have done with less stodge and substituted this for some greens (you can order greens as a side). The stuffing was kind of sloppy, I guess it's hard to hold oats and bacon together. I would love to try and make something similar myself and if I do I think I will be aiming to make a stuffing that holds itself together a little better.

Too stuffed for dessert we simply finished off my wine and then headed for the nearest bar to try and let it all settle a little bit before we had to go watch the first show of the night.

The bill came to around £50 which is a pretty standard cost for an establishment of this sort. It reminded me of the Reliance in Leeds but with extra emphasis on the heavy food. I guess Edinburgh is in a cold country (I was freezing in August) so some heart, body and belly warming food is in demand here.

One to visit if you're near and need your belly filling.

White Hart Inn - Grassmarket, Edinburgh

In the search for ale, none of this crappy lager stuff, we accidentally stumbled in to the oldest pub in Edinburgh. An absolute fluke! We walked in and out of a few pubs that didn't have pulled cask ale, walked in to this one saw that it had ale, a pub food bites menu and some tables (albeit outside) so parked our bottoms and pints (once pulled and paid for) outside. It was once we were sat outside that we noticed the sign which said it was the oldest pub in Edinburgh. Bingo.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mother India Cafe - Edinburgh

Mother India Cafe in Edinburgh, despite the name, is a restaurant that serves Indian food in tapas portions. A brilliant idea. It enables you try many more dishes than you would at your standard Indian restaurant and sharing food is always a great way to try more things too. Win win. I know most people would be eager to try Scottish fare when visiting Edinburgh but we had already booked somewhere Scottish and were fearful of falling in to the tourist traps and eating substantial run-of-the-mill stereotyped food the whole time we were there.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Blackhouse Revisited - Leeds

It has been almost a year since my last post about Blackhouse. I found myself there again a couple of weeks ago, this time as a member of a large group (11) celebrating a birthday. We were informed that as we were a large booking we would have to order from one of the set menus, no further explanation but two menus were presented to us of £35 and £40 per person. We took a vote and the £40 menu won. Curious I decided to compare the set menu against the main menu and how much each individual item on the set menu cost on the main menu (ie if you weren't in a large group)... I know I know I was being anal but I like to think I'm getting my monies worth when I'm eating out.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel - North Yorkshire

Dipping in to the North York Moors and close to Scarborough you will find Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. A grand old (former) farmhouse now converted in to a hotel using it's back-houses and barns to a AA 4 star standard. The main house now contains The Courtyard restaurant which presents fine dining and gastro pub experiences, something for everybody.

I was lucky enough to be invited to review the hotel (bear with me I've only done one before) and the afternoon tea (more than experienced), dinner (even more experienced) and breakfast (more than happy to lend a hand).

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Teppan 260 - Leeds City Centre

Alternative dining experiences have been around for a while, the Americans and Japanese appear to particularly like them. For example Americans have before chosen to deliver your burger and shake on roller skates, or by girls who are blessed in the chest region. In Japan we have seen cat cafés where you can stroke a moggie whilst drinking your mocha, or you may chose to have your dinner served by a ninja or in a prison, whatever tickles your fancy... (See here for a further list of what Japan has to offer in the alternative dining scene )

Monday, 21 July 2014

Bird and Beast - Leeds City Centre

Bird and Beast caught my eye a few months ago as I happen to walk through Central Arcade on my way to work most mornings. Things then started to rumble on twitter about it and my interest peaked further.

Bird and Beast is brought to us by a local chef Simon Shaw who is taking a step in to the Leeds dining scene by offering us a simple no fuss menu with locally sourced ingredients. A chef with a good standing already in the food scene he heads up El Gato Negro in Ripponden. 

It's all about the bird. The bird being chicken.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Bundobust - Leeds City Centre

Bundobust the love child of two fantastic ventures laying their routes in Bradford and expelling their child to the big city of Leeds.

The Sparrow: a real ale hub, a CAMRA endorsed pub, with some good people behind it. 

Prashaad: a once hidden secret in Bradford given national fame thanks to Gordon Ramsey, so successful they have had to relocate to a bigger premises and have even brought out a cook book. They serve meat free Indian food, so good that even the most blood thirsty of us will not miss meat.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Grove Cafe - Leeds (student land)

I'm a little confused by Grove Cafe, is it an Italian (as the subject line of their website suggests) or is it an Indian as listed on Hungry House with it's curries advertised first on the menu?

Despite this Grove Cafe was one of the takeaways recommended to me when I first moved back to Leeds. I don't remember it as a student (but then with all the alcohol I consumed I'm surprised I remember anything at all) so perhaps it hasn't been around that long?

So one rainy evening D and I decided to try it out...

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Pizza House Company - Leeds

Yet again I search for the perfect takeaway in North Leeds. This time to find pizza that shines above dominoes or at least comes close without the hefty price tag.

Pizza house company have a couple of takeaways dotted around Leeds in Moortown and Guiseley. 

Pizza House Company appear in the top takeaways for Leeds due to their user rating so I was eager to give them a go. 

A and I after having a rather tiresome Monday at work decided that it would be a perfect night to stuff our faces with pizza.

Pizza Express - Lunch

Pizza Express are currently trialling out a new lunch menu.

Honestly, I have a slight aversion to Pizza Express. I don't think I've ever had a good meal. Sloppy pizza, cold pizza, lasagne that later led to me projectile vomiting. Seen as it has been a good few years since these incidents and much avoidance of the place I decided to take them up on their offer of to sample the new lunch menu... plus it's literally down the road from where I work (but I am sure this applies to most).

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Roundhay Fox - Leeds

The Roundhay Fox (in Roundhay surprisingly) is a part of the Vintage Inns chain of pubs. There are nearly 200 of them and three in Leeds, so we can call this a well established chain.

A pub chain of this size would normally have me shying away but they don't boast ridiculous deals like two mains for £5.99 or onion rings stacked as high as your granny, so I wasn't too perturbed at trying them out. Plus... it seems to be my new local.

I don't know who, and I don't know when, but someone, somewhere, once told me that the Fox serves really nice pies.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Salts Diner - Saltaire

Salts Diner is situated in Salt's Mill in Saltaire

If you haven't been to Saltaire.. why not? I used to live near to Saltaire and there is so much I miss about the area, including being just a short walk away from the heritage village.