Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Wagamama, Leeds

A big steaming plate of noodles is just what you need after a hard week’s work so last Friday night we paid a visit to Wagamama.

Who am I kidding? ..... A few glasses of Pinot Grigio are just what you need after a hard week’s work but supplementing that with some noodles is not a bad idea! We started the evening in the Radisson hotel bar, where I drank the place dry of Pinot. I only had one, it just happened to be the last glass in the last bottle. Ah well, we wouldn’t be staying long as we were meeting one of A’s work colleagues visiting from America to go somewhere else for a drink and possibly some food. And hotel bars are notoriously expensive.

As a Leeds food blogger of some months now, I rather embarrassed myself by drawing a blank when asked by our visitor where was good to eat. I seem to be doing this a lot recently which is strange as I have had some really good meals in Leeds city centre. My excuse is that I hadn’t really thought it through, having raced off to the supermarket after work and then raced into Leeds to get there for seven. Luckily, A suggested Wagamama, a great choice!

The restaurant is a series of long bench tables, so there is an air of community to the eating experience (or communism*, if you prefer). No meat and potatoes here, though. Instead, the menu is a selection of noodles, rice dishes, and those watery-soup noodle bowls (called Ramen, I believe). These never look that appealing to me so I ordered some chicken gyoza followed by Yaki Soba – chicken, prawns, some vegetables and thin noodles.

The chicken gyoza were lovely – steamed dumplings with a dipping sauce. Sadly I had already laid into them before remembering the photo....

Yaki Soba is a generous portion but is quite light and so easy to clear your plate. I added a little chilli oil, which is available on the table, just to spice things up a bit.

Another bonus is that Wagamama** has added Pinot to the wine list – I always had to have a Rose on previous visits which doesn’t quite float my boat.

I like the way the waiters take your order and write your dish numbers on your place mat. I like the way they bring the food out in any order without rigid rules about courses (a touch of anarchy*). I like the way you can hang your coats up in a line on the wall - a bit like being in primary school. I like the way you can eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. I also liked the food and the company.

*Please note references to political ideologies within this post are purely accidental – next time I may be reviewing a Liberal lunch, a Marxist breakfast or even a Tea Party.

**Wagamama has a motto: “positive eating + positive living”. I can just imagine a load of marketing apprentice-types sitting around a boardroom table brainstorming this wonder of a catchphrase. What I want to know is, what is negative eating? On second thoughts, probably best not to think about that!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Deer Park, Roundhay

A gets sent to America now and then to work. In fact, this seems to be happening more and more frequently. He returns home with jet lag, 200 Superkings for my good self and some strange American sweets. This time it was Skittles –Tropical Flavour, which apparently they don’t do over here.

Anyway, it was Sunday morning. A got up at half two in the morning and was snoozing on the sofa when I surfaced around eight. So I waited, watched the X factor on Sky Plus from the night before, and waited some more. Finally, a few loud coughs awaken the slumbering A, and I mention that a) I’m starving and b) it might be nice to go out for Sunday lunch.

So that’s how we ended up at the Deer Park in Roundhay. I had heard that they were doing it up and that it was now a restaurant, so we thought we would give it a try.

On arrival, we were quickly seated. The place is done out with a definite “Deer Park” theme, in that there are some rustic tables and some of the chairs are decked out with animal fur-type rugs. Very modern and airy decor.

The menu is extensive and includes a wide variety of dishes. A Sunday lunch menu was also provided, along with a specials menu. A lot of deliberation went into our order, as there was so much choice.

In the end, A ordered the roast beef Sunday lunch. The waiter asked him how he would like it. Apparently, you can order it rare, and they will cut slices from nearer the centre of the joint. If you want well done, you will have some of the outer slices. It is quite unusual to be asked how you want your beef for Sunday lunch so we were quite impressed by that. A ordered rare.

I decided on beer-battered fish and chips which were served with a lovely pea puree. A generous portion of fish was clearly freshly cooked, with an excellent crispy batter.

The Deer Park used to be a pub, from what I understand, but is now much more of a restaurant. I asked the waiter if people could come in just for a drink and it seems that the entrance area is set up for that purpose with lounge chairs. Outside there are chairs and tables set up for alfresco drinking, which I am sure will be busy during the summer. I do hope that the Deer Park is welcoming to drinkers as well as diners in the future. Apart from the Streets of Leeds, the area seems a bit bereft of pubs.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Veritas Ale and Wine Bar, Leeds

Veritas is behind the Town Hall and after reading about it on The Good Stuff blog, I decided to give it a whirl for lunch. Entering the front door, you are immediately faced with a deli-style counter, where a lot of the meats, cheese and quiche are available to peruse. It looked very tempting and ended up forming the basis of our lunch.

We ordered a bottle of pinot grigio blush, after which I noticed they do prosecco by the glass. I like a glass of fizz so will make sure I order one next time. The Pinot was lovely, however, and was the perfect light lunchtime wine.

For starter I had fried wild mushrooms on garlic toast. I love this dish and often order a version of it for first course. Veritas do it very well, a nice mix of a variety of mushrooms, rather than your bog-standard supermarket variety. Psycho Psu had the carrot and coriander soup.

There are a variety of main courses on the menu and a list of sandwiches. Veritas also do a range of sharing plates – Charcuterie platter, Yorkshire mixed platter and others. If you prefer, you can choose your own from the deli counter and you are charged per item. We chose the latter option and wandered over to the counter to take a look. The woman there was very knowledgeable about the food, explaining what everything was and where it came from. We picked salmon quiche, smoked salmon, parma ham, goat’s cheese, pate and pickle. The plate is then made up and brought to the table with fresh bread.

This was a great grazing opportunity. Sometimes you don’t want a full-on meal at lunchtime, and the sharing platter fits the bill perfectly.

For pudding, we ordered a lemon and lime mousse/parfait. I can’t actually remember the name of it but it had a dense mousse-like consistency, a bit like crème brule, but not!

Veritas do breakfasts and afternoon tea. They also have an “After Eight” menu which are sharing platters for drinkers to nibble on after 8pm. I like the idea of having food to pick at when out drinking for the evening. It seems much more civilised than my pub-going days of scampi fries and pork scratchings. But then I also think that the pub was more civilised when you could enjoy a Berkeley superking with a drink (sigh).