Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Stroom, Pudsey

The last time I went to The Stroom was a few years ago. I remember it well as my friend the GemBear had just had her eyes lasered and kept disappearing to the bathroom to put drops in! I seem to remember we used to think it was a bit pricey (the food, not the laser eye surgery which apparently is worth every penny).

The reason this event sticks in my mind is because I have been thinking of getting my eyes done too. My optician keeps banging on about it when I visit for a check up. Apparently they do it on the lower ground floor of my optician in Leeds. I joked that they did it in the basement so that you can’t hear the screams, but he didn’t seem to find me amusing.

Anyway, back to The Stroom. They have changed their pricing policy to a “two courses for £15 and three courses for £17.50” with a range of supplements for steak and the like, and it seems to work out at much better value. The wine list is also very good, with a lovely Pinot Grigio blush at £13.50, which was duly tasted and ordered. This was a last minute dinner with G and V, and they very kindly let me choose the wine, as I seem to dislike more wines than I like.

I had the goat cheese with beetroot carpaccio and toasted pine nuts to start. This came with leaves and cherry tomatoes, and it was a good portion. A very pleasant start to the meal. (Is it just me or is beetroot having a bit of a renaissance?)

Main course was the special – a fillet of plaice in butter with potato and salad. This was a really pleasant dish. There is a lot of scraping of meat off bone going on here, and a few bones pulled out of the mouth, but it was worth it.

Main courses are served with new potatoes and vegetables, as part of the price so there is no need to order side dishes unless you want something in particular.

Pudding was the cheese plate – stilton, cheddar, Lancashire and Brie, with biscuits, a bowl of chutney and salad. The picture isn’t great because I had got stuck in before I remembered to take it.

The service was excellent. The waiter was very patient with us in the bar as we tried to make our minds up about what we wanted. He was also keen to let me taste the wine before we ordered it. G had a chat with the chef on the way out who was happy to talk about the food which is a good sign!

I recommend a visit to The Stroom (opposite the cenotaph in Pudsey) – good value, a nice wine list and excellent food.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

City Cafe, City Inn, Leeds

I haven’t blogged my dining out for a while. This is partly due to it being the holiday season, and being away, and partly due to being a lazy mare who “just hasn’t got round to it”. So last Saturday, we decided to try City Cafe at the City Inn. It’s a bit tricky to find – under the dark arches, down through the dark tunnel and then out the other end. There sits the Hop pub (had a drink, nice) and the City Inn.

I have read about the City Cafe – in fact Jay Rayner did a review a month or so ago in the Observer. My dining companion was Psycho Psu and we decided to make the best of the last few days of summer by sitting outside. The tables were actually outside the hotel bar, and we were brought a bar menu, but we asked for the restaurant menu as it was this we were here to try. We didn’t go in the restaurant inside but it looked quiet for Saturday lunchtime. Given its location, this is probably not that surprising, although there were plenty of people sitting on the terrace.

The cheapest Pinot Grigio was £27 (memories of Petrus came flooding back). It was actually a blush, which is one of my current favourites, so with a bit of a wince, we ordered it. *

For starter, I ordered Roast wood pigeon and onion tart. This is not so much a tart, as a piece of thin pastry that the pigeon sits on. Wood pigeon is a new one for me and I found it fairly gamey with a similar flavour to liver! The dish came with a piece of bacon, a quail egg, and pea puree. There was quite a lot going on on the plate, in fact, but I kind of like that! Lots of flavours and textures in one dish.

Psycho Psu had Smoked mackerel with ham hock potato cake. She reported the fish good, but the cake was rather lacking in flavour.

For main course I ordered the Herb crust rump of lamb. This was served with a “lamb cannelloni” which turned out to be a sort-of pancake, stuffed with shredded lamb. I liked it. The dish also came with greens and the now-obligatory pea puree.

Psycho Psu had paella, with seatrout, mussels and chorizo.

I couldn’t resist the cheese plate, to follow the meal. The portion-for-one at £3.50 is much more realistic and better value than your average cheese plate which I would say normally comes in about £6-7. Brie, cheddar and Yorkshire blue were served, with oatcakes.

Psycho Psu had the Chocolate and pecan tart with banana ice-cream. This worked really well with a mix of flavours.

We finished with an Espresso Martini each – they weren’t on the menu but the barman obliged! In fact the staff as a whole were excellent – really good, friendly service. This place is a bit out of the way, and when I think of hotel food, I often think of crap warmed-up or deep-fried food eaten on a plastic table, but the City Cafe and the City Inn is nothing like that. An interesting menu, a lovely setting by the canal, and great service. It really is worth a visit.

*There is a great Pinot Grigio blush on offer in Asda at the moment – 3 bottles for £12. This deal has got me through the summer!