Sunday, 7 December 2014

Review: Tharavadu - Leeds City Centre




Curry houses in Leeds city centre, to me, have always been a bit of a let down. The menus tend to be the same where ever you go, tikkas, baltis, bhunas etc. They are often full of 'lads' being 'lads' or office workers on a Friday night who have had a few after work and now need something to fill their bellies. The food is made to please the masses with little care or attention taken to make the dishes actually taste different and distincive, if you exclude the spice ratings and meat options (some times not even the latter). 

In this respect Tharavadu is a breath of fresh air. It brings something to Leeds that you'd usually have to travel to neighbouring Bradford to find. With typically unheard of dishes, it moves away from the 'traditional British curry' and instead presents to us a true reflection of what food is like in South India along the Karalan coast line (I presume). It shows us what a dosa should be like. It shows us what else there is out there other than a chicken bhuna/balti/tikka masala. It shows us true passion in it's food. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Review: Aarti - Roundhay, Leeds


Once upon a time Aarti used to be a restaurant in the old police station of Chapel Allerton but last year they closed and then a moth later moved to Roundhay. Admittedly I never visited their previous restaurant but it appears that many have, and they had quite a following. A short conversation with a lovely woman in the Roundhay restaurant we found her disappointment that the delay and move had unfortunately lost them some loyal customers who were not aware of their new premises. I myself only found out recently that there was an Indian restaurant on Street Lane and I've lived here a year now. In fact when I first noticed it I thought it was just a takeaway and it was only after going to collect my takeaway last weekend that I found out there was a tiny restaurant inside! 

Aarti has a relatively small menu featuring Punjabi and South Indian food, this appealed to me as too many Indian restaurants/takeawats serve too wide a choice, it makes it impossible to choose and you're left wondering how they can keep up the quality for over 40 dishes. They also sell dosas, chat and a large range of vegetarian options. This is not your standard Indian restaurant/takeaway. 

Review: The White Hart - Pool in Wharfedale

The White Hart is a pub that lies on the side of the road as you drive through Pool in Wharfedale. A chain pub, of which their website is secretive of, I'm told it is linked to the Deer Park in Roundhay. The general feel is that of old country pub with posh country furnishings. There are open fires and tartan draped all over the place.

A group of four we went along for dinner one Saturday evening. We booked ahead and it was a good job we did as they were full to capacity when we arrived. We were shown down a small number of steps to a table at the bottom of them. The dining room was filled with as many tables as possible with many larger groups and older families. Sitting on the corner I ducked each time someone came along with plates fearing a gravy on my head or worse a black eye. 

The menu is fairly simple with a number of 'gastro pub' dishes which I believe changed seasonally. Most of the specials menu contained fish. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Revisited: Distrikt - Leeds City Centre




I last visited Distrikt in February 2013 recalling that I rather liked the food I decide to pop in again on a Wednesday for their half price tapas offer.

Ever the place of impossible secretive photos (read: taking photos without glaring everyone with your flash so instead come out dark and pink) I apologise again for the photo quality of this post.

They advertise their food to be fresh and local, therefore you'd expect a few seasonal changes with the favourites generally remaining.

We were given menus and told that only a few dishes were half price, this didn't include patatas bravas or olives as these were listed under bar snacks...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Review: Cabana - Leeds



"Her name was Lola, she was a show girl, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there."

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of Copacabana? It starts off so happy with a showgirl and a guy who works behind the bar... And then it ends with her drinking herself in to despair with faded yellow feathers in her hair. 

It's not the name of the song that is so fitting for Cabana but also the lyrics. Starting off so happy and promising, drinks flowing and smiles. Ending despairingly as you look at the bill and almost, like Lola, lose your mind. 

Dammit. 

Time to eat humble pie.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Event: Cabana Brasilian Barbecue comes to Leeds



Cabana has finally reached out of the big smoke and landed in to the laps of Leeds.

With the emergence of all you can eat Brasilian Barbecues it's nice to find somewhere that wants to serve... well Brazilian barbecue but this time will no green and red paddles or £40 per head bills. (Unless you order a ton of sides).

I was lucky enough to be invited to their sneak preview the night before they opened. A very well put together event, it certainly put many others I have been to to shame. The place wasn't overly crowded and there was plenty of food and drink to go around. I left having only eaten canapes feeling trouser tight full and slight tipsy from the amount of Brazilian beer and cocktails that was placed before me.

Review: Pinche Pinche - Leeds - New Tapas Menu




Pinche Pinche has stood firmly on the streets of Chapel Allerton for around 7 years now, before that there was another Mexican restaurant, before that I have no idea. There aren't many Mexican restaurants in Leeds (when you compare to burger joints and Italians) and being a lover of Mexican food I can't quite understand why, although I guess it might be because they all sell the same (give or take) food. Burritos, Fajitas, Enchiladas, nachos, chilli con carne... There is nothing wrong with any of these foods, but they are pretty easy to replicate at home.

The owner's passion for Mexican food has led them to take a daring step forward and offer the people of Leeds something a little different. Yes, there are other Mexican restaurants doing tapas style menus, but you will struggle to find them outside London, and if you do find them in Yorkshire I bet they don't have the same things on the menu as they do here. This is no longer a run of the mill Mexican restaurant, they have something to shout about, something that makes them different, something you may struggle to make yourself at home. 


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Event: Manahatta - Northern Quarter Leeds

With the ever growing popularity of the Northern Quarter of Leeds here comes another new bar from Arc Inspirations.

Manahatta takes part of what was the former Gatecrasher club, the part it takes is the downstairs and then it extends down Merrion Street. It's designed to be parallel to bars found in New York with speak-easy vibes and
straight-lined designs.

The food (I'm told) tries to gauge the cosmopolitan culture of New York, American burgers, Chinese influenced pork, Indonesian chicken skewers, subs, salads, lobster Mac and cheese...

Hats off to the owner and the PR agency, with a pick up in a real NYC yellow cab and a background (almost CV like) introduction from owner on how he started out to where he is now.. I'm now leaning on the more favourable side of Arc Inspirations. A local chain - if you like - the owner is down to Earth, honest and let's be fair they must be doing something right to open another bar/restaurant.

Here's a photo blog of what you could expect should you take a visit.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Review: Solita - Manchester




Solita has appeared in national newspapers recommending them as one of the top places to grab a burger, in these burgersplosive times this is some feat. I had visited Solita before this visit, I'd say around 18 months ago, before we went burger mental up north. 

Solita is well known to the food bloggers of Manchester and to many in Leeds too. Their famous burgers managing to make an impact across the pennies is certainly something to pay attention to. 

So what is all the fuss about? 

Yes they do burgers, many have jumped on the burger bandwagon since, but they were there at the beginning, maybe a little quieter in terms of their popularity but by no means quieter in themselves. They have been shouting about how good they are on twitter for some time now. They have so much confidence and most importantly passion about what they do it shines through in their food. They pride themselves on delivering good food, trying new things, not being afraid to admit when things have gone wrong, testing the waters with new ideas or ideas which haven't previously been widespread in the UK. It's due to this that their menu is constantly changing, they have specials frequently and themed nights too (such as the breaking bad evenings) but they have also established their classics too. Things that customers want to eat time and time again, things they have got down to a tee. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Review: Almost Famous - Leeds



Bad Press. 

Lewd marketing. 

Hipster followings. 

Poor toilet decoration choices. 

No reservations on a Saturday night. 

There is only one of the above points which tipped the scales for a visit last Saturday night. When a last minute date night calls and you haven't made a reservation you fall upon desperate times.

Okay, that is admittedly a bit harsh. I had wanted to visit Almost Famous when it was a solely Mancunian establishment, when it made it's way over to Leeds it got a less than warm welcome (no idea what I'm talking about? See here and here and here)

Curiosity killed the cat? This cat is still alive, curiosity fulfilled, expectations - not.


Monday, 10 November 2014

Review: The Black Prince - Leeds City Centre





I'm not a big fan of pub chains so when I was offered to review The Black Prince in Leeds I didn't immediately jump at the opportunity. I'm trying to be more open minded, gourmet food isn't the main focus for everyone. I've also reviewed similar places off of my own back in the past so it would be ever so slightly hypocritical of me to now become a food snob. 

The Black Prince resides in what was formally Flares nightclub, and then I believe an 80s nightclub. I haven't been inside this building since I was 17 18, I was intrigued to see how it had changed, it's such a beautiful building it always seemed a shame is was inhabited by the drunk middle and under age  18 year olds. 

There are no table reservations (unless I suspect you're planning on having your work Christmas party here) instead there are numbers on tables and you order at the bar. 

Alternative from most pubs which fall in to the same category (Wetherspoons/Yates to name two) they don't just serve lager and Guinness there are a few ales which I'm told rotate every so often. A quick check that the Green King IPA was back on and we had two pints. 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Recipe: Homemade Peri Peri Spatchcock Chicken


Why go out when you can make it better yourself at home?

Peri peri or piri piri sauce is not hard to make, you don't quite get the same flavour from a bottle as what you do making it from scratch. It's not too hard to make either.

I made this for Friday night tea with wine in hand, ingredients were slap dashed measured and it still came out pretty darn delicious so I dare you to go wrong with this recipe.

This recipe is for one small chicken, feel free to boost the ingredients should you wish to feed more.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Review: Saffron - Roundhay Road, Leeds




Good news readers I have found a good Indian takeaway/restaurant in Leeds! *Dances around in victory pants*

I was offered a complimentary meal to review one of the top rated Indian takeaways in Leeds (as rated on Hungry House). Saffron, amongst others in my local area, appeared on the list. I had never tried it so I decided to give a shot. 

Saffron is situated on Roundhay road, there is an abundance of a indian restaurants and takeaways on this road, at night time the neon lights look like a minuscule version of the Vegas strip, or perhaps (more likely) Blackpool. I've taken a few chances down this strip with little success. I was apprehensive. 

We ordered online through Hungry House and opted to collect, which turned out to be a winner as collection secures you 25% off the bill! So we orded more...

It was predicted we could collect in 25 minutes so we had time to nip to the shop and grab a couple of beers and drive down. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Review: The Old Stables - Horncastle, Lincolnshire


Horncastle lies South of the Lincolnshire Wolds. It is a town famed for its antiques and what can only be described as Junk shops. I've honestly never seen so many in such a small vicinity! Definitely a top place to go for all those treasure and bargain hunting types.

As with many small towns/villages there is an array of Tearooms and cafes and it can be quite hard to pick out the best one. Luckily we had local knowledge on our side and were pointed towards The Old Stables just off of the town square.

With a large courtyard and two floors inside it is fairly sizeable for a cafe in a small town. We walked in and settled for a table upstairs. Someone in this establishment definitely has a penchant for purple. Purple sofas, purple cushions, purple decorations, purple table mats..