Sunday, 18 January 2015

Review: The Bridge Tavern - Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne or as it is more commonly referred to, Newcastle, is a city I have only briefly seen from the window of a train. I was long overdue a visit. 

I'm not entirely sure that Newcastle is known for its food culture, it's football, loud and scantily clad women, Geordie accents and impressive bridges yes. From what I can gather the food scene is on the way up like most Northern cities, no longer are good eateries confined to that London place. Like many major cities you'll find a lot of chain restaurants decorating the main streets but tucked away down the quayside, chares (small streets) and less obvious walkways you'll find a range of different independents and some upcoming or well-known chef eateries (NB this doesn't include Jamie's Italian which is right up there in central position with the rest of the chains).

It was only a matter of time before I visited Newcastle as the chap is fond of the ol' football and despite coming from Leeds is an NUFC fan. I did a fair bit of research before we visited so not to end up eating somewhere too disappointing, and I've found a fair few Newcastle bloggers in the process too, which is always going to be handy for any upcoming visits (of which I am sure there will be plenty more). 

Quite a few places were recommended to me by some locals. I really wanted something that we didn't have in Leeds, for instance an overindulging burger place or a chain. Amongst the recommendations were a sausage restaurant and the Broad Chare. Whilst reading through some blogs I stumbled across The Bridge Tavern. Its menu seemed very similar to The Broad Chare... but a few quid cheaper and featuring a micro brewery. On this occasion The Bridge Tavern won and it became our choice of pre-match grub. I've since read that the chef from Broad Chare has migrated to The Bridge Tavern so this could explain the similar offerings. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Review: Shears Yard - Leeds

I've been staring at a blank blog post for so long my computer screen just turned off.

I'm apprehensive about writing this post.

Shears Yard is loved by most of the Leeds food circle. If not all. Well no, not all.

Please don't send the masses to lynch me.

I just feel that maybe I'm missing something?

I suppose the best way to start this post is to begin like I always do...

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Guide: Beat the January Blues with great restaurant discounts!

Here's me looking cold and blue 

Each January restaurants see a lull as the masses go on diets, stop spending and generally sit at home out of the cold.

Each January I'm seeing more and more restaurants offering January specific discounts. So take a break from the diet, benefit from the discount and get out of the house!

Below you will find all that I can find in terms of January discounts for Leeds. If I have missed any please feel free to comment below and I will add it to the list.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review: Blue Bell Inn - Belchford, Horncastle

The Blue Bell Inn is an AA recommended pub, features in the good pub guide, appears in the Michelin 'eating out in pubs' guide as well as being praised by the locals. Must be good right? Right. 

Situated in the Lincolnshire Wolds and dating back to the 18th Century, The Blue Bell Inn is a relatively small pub that serves the locals and hikers (it falls along the Viking Way a hot spot for history walkers). They aren't muddy boots friendly however and politely request they are left in the lobby. 

The pub itself serves a standard range of spirits, wines and lagers as well as two to three guest ales on tap. The relaxed nature of the pub is that you can chose to sit in the pub and enjoy a pint by the fire, you can eat in the pub or in the dining room. Both times I have visited we have eaten in the less formal pub area rather than the dining room. 

The menu is constantly changing depending on season and availability of local produce, so what you see on the website may be slightly different to what they are serving on any one particular night. The menu is displayed on a blackboard in the main bar area and if required a printed menu can be handed to you and they will update you with any changes. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Review: The Three Horseshoes- Louth, Goulceby

On Christmas Eve D, his parents and I decided to go for a wintry walk and stop for lunch at the Three Horseshoes in Goulceby. D's parents are lucky enough to live in the Lincolnshire Wolds which makes for lovely little walks with a pub always in sight at the end, part way through or even at the beginning of the walk. 

The Three Horseshoes has, I'm told, recently acquired a new chef after their last providing disastrously bad food to their customers.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Review: The Griffin - Leeds, Boar Lane: Christmas Dinner

The work Christmas party. Does it really need an introduction? Drunken debauchery, bad dad dancing, pissed promises of promotions, corporate secret slipping... And the ever fated bad Christmas dinner. 

Does it always have to be bad? I've eaten a few corporate Christmas dinners now, ranging from the traditional Turkey dinner to the not so traditional duck leg. Some have been good, some have been bad but none have been great, fantastic, something to rave about. 

Surely restaurants/hotels must see the benefits of doing corporate Christmas dinners right? You've got at least 8 (in my experience) people sitting down to eat (most likely with some forceful peer pressure to attend). Lay before them a feast to behold, something that really excites and wows them and will they not return to see what the rest of the menu tastes like? 

I get that restaurants may buckle under the strain of producing 15 meals of varying different dishes all at the same time. Then again they always take your order in advance of the night too.. From where I'm sitting I can't see any excuses for it to be a poor meal.

I realise some people may frown upon me reviewing my work Christmas dinner, or perhaps think it's a step too far and I am now too wholly consumed by blogging that I now must blog about everything single meal I eat out (I don't). However, by taking pictures of my food at the table it helped stem conversation with people I had not previously spoken to in great depth, I found more people similar to myself who have a passion for food. I found out a colleague owns a chain of pubs in York, and we debated over the ethics of trip adviser and the damage bad reviews can do to a business. 

To me, this turned out to be a very good idea. So now, I guess, I have to follow it up. 

The Griffin is owned by the pub chain Taylor Walker. A quick check on their website and the Griffin seems to be their first in Leeds and I hadn't visited one previously so it was a mystery as to what it would behold for us.. 

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. 


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.