Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Restaurant, Bar and Grill, Leeds city centre

The regular school friends’ lunch kicked off on Saturday with prosecco outside All Bar One. It was gorgeous weather, and Sarah T and I were making our way down our second bottle when H roared up in the Corsa, two dogs in the back and hubby driving. It’s great to get a lift into Leeds when you are running late! So two became three (sadly not four – the other school friend was at home with a bit of a head - we missed you Sarah H!)

We were intending to go on to Jamie’s Italian, but after some debate we decided we would quite like to eat outside (well, I did!), and settled on the Restaurant, Bar and Grill on City Square.

I have been to this place several times, always enjoyed it, but that was before I started this blog!

There were plenty of people enjoying food and drink in the sun when we arrived but we were quickly seated and the obligatory pinot grigio ordered.

For starter, I ordered asparagus. Apparently the English asparagus season started late this year due to the late cold weather we had. I always try to order it around this time of year, in a nod in the direction of eating “seasonal”. The asparagus was served with poached egg and hollandaise sauce, a classic combination, and a lovely light start to a meal.

Main course was a burger (I have been ordering this a lot recently!). This came with real chunky chips/wedges and what seemed like a homemade ketchup. All excellent. The only downside was I had to ask for mayonnaise twice! On the whole the service was good, though.

My companions had risotto and Thai green curry. The curry especially was a really good portion and H couldn’t finish it. She declared it very tasty, however.
We didn’t have pudding. The meal was fairly filling and we were ready to move on.

City Square seems to be a bit of a wind tunnel, maybe something to do with being surrounded by tall buildings. It is lovely, however, to have the opportunity to sit outside with lunch and a few drinks and lots of people were doing just that. The Restaurant, Bar and Grill isn’t cheap, but the food is consistently good quality and the restaurant inside is worth seeing – the old post office building with a huge ceiling and tasteful decor.

Anyway we moved on to Aire bar and sat by the river. Looks like everyone else had the same idea!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

La Rosa, Pudsey

La Rosa is an Italian that replaced the old Aagrah on Bradford Road, when it moved to its fancy new location behind the cinema in Thornbury. It was Saturday evening, and we really fancied a meal out, but nothing too far away or too expensive, so off to our latest local Italian!

The layout is similar to the old Aagrah but the restaurant has been done up in a new style. We were quickly seated and a small portion of bruscetta was immediately brought to the table and drinks orders taken.

Calamari (£5.95) to share was a lovely first course, clearly home made with a side salad – very good.

Main courses were Napoli pizza (olives, capers, anchovies and oregano - £7.25). Good quality pizza....

And for me it was the spaghetti con polpette (meatballs, chilli , pepperoni and tomato - £7.50). A really good pasta dish! Garlic pizza bread on the side was great for dipping in the sauce.

As well as the bruscetta when we arrived, a basket of bread was put on the table when our first course arrived. Again, this is a Leeds Food Leads plus point. Bread as a staple, not an addition to the bill!

The restaurant seemed very family-friendly, with a fair number of families dining on a Saturday night. It is a bit out-on-a-limb on Bradford Road, and you really need to drive there (or get a cab, as we did). It wasn’t packed out on a Saturday night, and the food is great, so it deserves to get local support.

Service is friendly and efficient. And they do doggy-bags so the left-over garlic bread came home with us!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Arts Cafe, Leeds

I love the Arts Cafe. It has been a staple of Leeds for many years now and can always be relied upon to produce quality food in lovely surroundings. Nestled down Call Lane, very near the Corn Exchange, the Arts has art work from local artists displayed on the walls, usually for sale.

We decided to go for Sunday lunch last weekend. They have their usual menu - a range of lunch plates, sandwiches and salads, along with the a la carte menu. On Sundays, they also have a choice of a beef or lamb roast. There is a also a special offer on a Sunday where you can have 2 courses for £12.95 or 3 for £15 (prices approximate – they don’t seem to mention this deal on their website).

I had the goat’s cheese starter, which came with crostini, and A had the haddock fillet on a bed of green beans with quail eggs. The haddock was perfectly cooked, and went well with the tiny eggs.

The goat's cheese...

We both then chose the Sunday roast beef. All I can say is that it was a great Sunday roast – homemade Yorkshires, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and a mix of vegetables. In fact, we would go so far as to say it is right up there with the Cross Keys on Water Lane, which seems to be booked out every Sunday since it won a Best Sunday Lunch Award in the Observer Food Monthly Magazine.

So well done, the Arts. Consistent, reliable, quality – and now I find a great choice for Sunday lunch!

Oh, and they do a nice Pinot Grigio.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Midnight Bell, Leeds

The Midnight Bell is one of a number of pubs and restaurants that have appeared in the last few years in Holbeck Urban Village. Turn right at the “Dalek” as you come out of Leeds on Neville Street, into Water Lane, and there it is!

The pub is part of the Leeds Brewery chain which includes the Brewery Tap and Pin. We have dined here before, usually for Sunday lunch, and it has always been good. Today, we fancied a return visit, and discovered the place was empty, probably due to the fact it was tipping down with rain! I don’t believe the lack of customers is a reflection on the food, as we have always had a good experience here.

Sunday lunch was available, but we both decided to go non-traditional, A ordering fish and chips, me ordering a burger.

The fish and chips came with pea puree – excellent in A’s opinion, and he doesn’t like traditional mushy peas. Chips were homemade.

My burger was homemade as well, presented in a seeded bun with salad and cheese. A side of relish was also provided, along with the chips. The picture below is not great – you can’t really see the burger under the huge bun, but I was so eager to tuck in I didn’t notice when I took it!

Other options on the Sunday menu included traditional roasts, sausage and mash, a veggie pasta, along with a few starters and puddings.

Another bonus of this area of Leeds is that you can park for free on a Sunday, just over the road.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Donington Manor, Castle Donington

A trip to Birmingham to drop off a keyboard (don’t ask!) involved a stopover in Castle Donington. I found the Donington Manor Hotel by googling the journey and working out a good place to stay on the way.

We arrived just before 7pm (with the keyboard – the band has arrived!) For £99 we acquired a suite (with its own patio), dinner and breakfast.

The entire hotel was lovely – quiet on a Thursday night – with very obliging staff. After checking out the room (switching lights on and off, opening cupboards, looking what toiletries are in the bathroom) we went down to the bar and had a couple of drinks in the garden before sitting down to dinner.

Three courses were on offer, with a good choice of dishes. I could have eaten every one of the starters, but opted for the smoked salmon and cream cheese, a light start to the meal.

A ordered pigeon – he wasn’t overly keen – it was very gamey. However, this was due to A never having eaten this meat before, rather than there being something wrong with the way it was cooked.

For main, I ordered lamb, which was presented on a pea puree base. A had the duck. This all came with vegetables and potatoes on the side. Both dishes were lovely and full of flavour.

The duck.....

The lamb......

Pudding was blueberry crème brule for A and cheese for me. Both good.......

The food overall was outstanding – best meal I have had in ages. I couldn’t believe that this was included in the special offer price, particularly with breakfast as well. The hotel staff were friendly and hospitable – you couldn’t really fault it in any way. Breakfast was excellent as well – a full English fry-up!

The hotel is a couple of miles away from East Midlands airport, so a good place to stay if you ever have an early morning flight from there.