Ira B's has been ranked the best restaurant on TripAdvisor for some time now, therefore it is almost shameful that I haven't paid them a visit seen as it's only a ten minute walk from my home. To achieve number one ranking out of the 1,392 restaurants that are listed on TripAdvisor for Leeds and remain there for quite some time is some mean feat. In addition to this they've only received one 'terrible' ranking and zero 'poor' rankings. They must be doing something right, or they have one massive fan club who are blasting TripAdvisor with reviews.
Most people know that TripAdvisor stats need to be taken with a pinch of salt, a disgruntled person is more likely to write a review to vent their frustrations than a happy customer, so enough about them... Ira B's describe them selves as a 'snack bar', not a cafe and not a restaurant. They serve classic Jewish food with a 'slightly bonkers mood'. They are situated deep in suburbia on the edge of Roundhay and Moortown within a parade of shops. Not exactly the place you'd expect to find the best eatery in town.
We walked in one sunny Sunday afternoon, not wanting to feel like we were sat in a car park (see various other posts in North Leeds where this is also the case) we chose to sit inside. We sat there for a little while wondering if it was table service or counter service, with the absence of menus and staff running around we went up to the counter and asked for a menu (there were none on the tables). We were swiftly told that they brought the menus out to us and D returned to our table menu-less. We were left waiting a little while longer before we finally had some menus in our hands, menus that were stored behind the counter, why these couldn't be handed to D whilst he was there I have no idea.
|disc shaped menus that involve a lot of menu and head turning to read|
No one came to take our order for a good 15 minutes so we were left wondering again whether it was table or counter service... We looked around and some other tables were being attended to answering our question but still leaving us waiting.
I'd say around 20-30 minutes went by before someone acknowledged us and we were told that they were really busy so drinks would be on the house and what did we want. It felt quite abrupt but I let it pass as clearly if they were giving drinks on the house they were getting a little stressed and worried about losing customers.
D and I both ordered a strawberry milkshake.
|Sweet and creamy strawberry milkshake|
One milkshake turned up and I looked wistfully at it, D said I could have that one and I gave it a sip. It tasted like the old syrup milkshakes you used to get as a kid, none of this powdery Nesquik crap. When other drinks were starting to be dished out to the tables around us it became apparent that D's wasn't coming. We had to grab a young looking lad and explained we'd ordered two but only had the one. He whisked away and consulted with the woman who looked like she was in charge, another milkshake was brought out promptly and it was explained that our order was half finished before the waitress had a nose bleed and disappeared. I eyed my milkshake for drops of blood...
It's only now that I realise our choice of milkshake and choice of sandwich was somewhat un-kosher, and with us being in a Jewish snack bar that was probably a little thoughtless but no one said anything... phew.
D went for the 'Not Such A Grobber' sandwich, which is a smaller version of 'The Grobber' this is a salt beef sandwich served on rye bread with pickles and mustard topped with latkes. Latkes are what I can only describe as a cross between potato bhaji and a hash brown.
I had a (big) bite of D's salt beef (steady) and it tasted like a colder, healthier (I'd like to think), tastier (possibly) burger. Perhaps it was all the mustard and pickle? I wouldn't hesitate to order this myself and perhaps next time order a B.O.B aka a bit of both, half a salt beef sandwich and chicken soup, the mother and father of Jewish staple foods.
Keen to keep it Jewish I ordered the Chicken Schnitzel. However me being me (hopeless) my mouth failed me when I tried to say 'Chicken Schnitzel' when ordering and it sounded more like a snotty sneeze. Classy.
My sandwich was full sized and also served with pickles and latkes, save this time mayo instead of mustard. It tasted like what I'd imagine a McChicken Mayo would taste like if it was made properly, what you imagine it tastes like when you peer up at the massive billboards, then are bitterly disappointed when it tastes of cardboarded grease.
This was nothing of the sort. I exclaimed out loud "who ever thought of putting a pickle in a fried chicken sandwich is a genius". I bow my head to you Ira B.
Whilst there I observed a woman wrap up half of her Chicken Schnitzel and take it home, I was too greedy to do this and instead D had to roll me home.
Ira B's is full of quirky decor, from bowler hat lamps to a million different signs with a variety of different catch phrases, the canvas above my head exclaiming 'Go to heaven for the climate, go to hell for the company'.
Despite the hiccups at the beginning of the meal the food was fabulous and massive. I was dubious over the prices but seeing the portion sizes I reeled my tight arse in. The service picked up as the masses died down. They were at full capacity so I am still slightly baffled as to why we were left unattended for so long... staff shortage maybe? There were a couple of people driving around in their Ira B's branded car, maybe they should have called them in to help?
If I hadn't of been so full I would have definitely had bought an ice cream cone for the journey home. The ice cream bar sat behind us and the variety of flavours was teasing.
I'd definitely visit Ira B's again, as mentioned previously I'm keen to try out the BOB, but perhaps next time I'll avoid peak time (Sunday at 2pm).