Saturday, 27 December 2014

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

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

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. 

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.