Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Living Room, Leeds City Centre

There’s a lot more to bar work than when I was a barmaid in 1990. In my day, when people asked what wine you had, it was either red or white, and it was served out of an optic over the bar (eeugh!) A cocktail was a vodka and orange. Things have moved on since then, thankfully, and at the Living Room, the bar staff have a detailed knowledge of the different cocktails on offer and the ingredients of a traditional Martini. Despite this wealth of information, we ordered glasses of prosecco. How predictable.

The place has had a bit of a facelift since I last visited. Starter was a pea soup, served with pea shoots, crusty bread and butter. This had a lot of flavour and was the perfect starter.

For main, I ordered the fishcake served with wilted spinach, poached egg and hollandaise. This was ok, but I don’t think prawns go well in a fishcake – they tend to come out a bit overdone and rubbery.

For pudding, I ordered the cheese – a generous plate with oat crackers.

I generally recommend the Living Room. It is a chain, but this doesn’t prevent it from serving good food from a menu that gets updated now and then. Service is always polite and friendly.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Gray Ox, Hartshead

Wracking my brains for somewhere to go for Sunday lunch, I had a brainwave and went on Leeds Grub’s blog. I had a vague memory of a review several months back of a pub that did a good Sunday lunch which was not that far from home. After scrolling down for several pages, I hit on it – The Gray Ox in Hartshead! I remembered being impressed by the pictures and thinking the prices seemed reasonable for what looked like good quality.

So we programmed the postcode into the SatNav and set off. We arrived about 12.15pm and were asked if we had a reservation, which we hadn’t thought of. They said they could squeeze us in if we vacated the table by 2pm, which we had no problem with as we were heading to the cinema afterwards.

There was a specials menu, and a £13.95 set menu for two courses. I ordered off the set menu, having smoked salmon ballontine which came with herb salad and small pieces of toasted bread.

A had the chicken liver pate, which he reported excellent.

For main, I had the roast lamb Sunday lunch. This came with a large Yorkshire pudding, goose fat roast potatoes, mash and a jug of “proper” gravy. On the side – mashed swede, broccoli and cauliflower cheese. The lamb was “melt in the mouth” and the meal was beautifully presented, despite being a generous portion.

A had the beer-battered haddock which came with homemade chunky chips and a little silver bucket of mushy peas. All very good.

The bill came promptly and was around £40 for 2, including a pint for A and a large glass of pinot for me. I would definitely visit again, but would probably make a reservation, just to be sure.

Side issue: probably my first real experience of the now acceptable rudeness to smokers happened outside this pub. I had just nipped outside and was sat on my own on a bench having a cigarette and reading a bit of the paper when an older man walked past. He said something to me, which I didn’t catch. When I looked up, he walked over and said something about smoking and dying. I didn’t catch exactly what it was but it was not presented in a friendly way but instead in a rude confrontational manner. I just looked away but was amazed that it has become the norm to approach a woman on her own and berate her for something that isn’t anyone’s business.

Anyway that is a side issue – The Gray Ox is awesome!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Create, Leeds

Go and try Create
Have a meal at Create
Support this fantastic new venture in Leeds
Book a table at Create....

The End.

Not really, I just really enjoyed my first visit to Create a few Saturdays ago. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it – most likely on twitter. I had a good read of their website and perused their menu and decided a visit was definitely on the cards.

Create is a venture that is overseen by the Executive Chef at Harvey Nichols, Richard Walton Allen. It seems to be a similar project to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, offering training and work to people who have fallen on hard times, become homeless or vulnerable - a fine reason for visiting and supporting the restaurant.

But not the only reason. Because it is really excellent. From the food to the service, I was impressed with the entire operation.

My dining companion was Psycho Psu, who regular readers will know as someone who will eat her way through as many courses as possible, so a great person to take to a new place.

For starter, we both ordered Poached egg and Yorkshire ham salad, with mustard dressing. This was a simple dish, but worked very well. The egg was poached to perfection, with just the right amount of runny yolk, so the bread served when we were seated was great for dipping (no ordering and paying for bread, here).

For main, I ordered the free range chicken with wild mushroom dressing. Sides were new potatoes and mushrooms with feta. The chicken was excellent and the sides in particular were wonderful, particularly the mushrooms, which complemented the chicken dressing perfectly.

Mushrooms, feta, bacon

Psycho Psu ordered the plaice with green beans and black bean salsa. This was served on the bone, which she admits put her off a little, but she couldn’t fault the flavour.

For pudding we ordered the Yorkshire and Lancashire cheeses, which were served with biscuits and raisin bread. Create got this just right with a larger range of six cheeses, small portions but great variety. Much more preferable to a larger slab of two or three cheeses. I admit I couldn’t identify them all, but that was part of the fun!

We also ordered the plate of brownies and biscuits which were perfect with coffee. The plate included biscotti and flapjacks.

Starters are around £5-6, mains range from £9-13. They also do a set menu. Very good value for top quality food.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Old Silent Inn, Haworth

Just outside Haworth, in the village of Stanbury , there is a lovely country pub that does great food. They have actually won an award for the best pub food in the Great British Pub Awards (2010).

We were on our way to an overnight stay in Haworth, but couldn’t check in until three, so it seemed prudent to eat lunch on the way. I found the Old Silent Inn on google maps before we set off, and duly programmed it into the sat-nav.

We decided to sit outside as for once, the sun was shining. A few other diners had the same plans.

I ordered a prawn marie rose and rocket sandwich. It came on thick cut granary bread, served with a side salad. I was a little disappointed that the prawns were the big king variety, which I think are ok in a Chinese dish, but not so good in a sandwich. I prefer the small cocktail variety (not as chewy). This is just a personal preference, however, and I can’t really fault the way they served it.

A had a chicken club sandwich which was served on crusty French bread – it was huge. We ordered onion rings on the side which were clearly home made and very good.

Service was pleasant and friendly. Lunch was complemented with a glass of Pinot for me and a pint of real ale for A. The Old Silent Inn is perfect if you fancy a day out in the countryside and a visit to a traditional pub.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Lucia, York

The schoolfriends’ lunch with a difference was last Saturday. It was different because I am turning forty and this was an opportunity for us to lament this fact coupled with prosecco, pinot and some good food.

Originally there were just three of us, and the day kicked off predictably with my train being cancelled and having to meet the girls in York, instead of on the train as originally planned. (This exact same thing happened the last time we went to York, but that time they wouldn’t let me on the train because it was full of Xmas shoppers of something, or maybe they just wouldn’t let me on the train!)

Anyway, it emerged that our fourth member had had a last minute re-organise and surprised me by turning up! The other two were in on it, of course, whereas I was oblivious to furtive texting and last minute changes to arrangements. I would make a terrible spy.

So we all tripped off to Lucia and waited for one of their patio tables. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings but we didn’t have to wait for long. The place seemed very popular with lots of diners sitting outside in a very pleasant courtyard.

Lucia does a bit of everything; I suppose you could call it Mediterranean. Some of it is typical Italian – pasta, risotto, along with a range of small plates, with a hint of a Spanish theme in the options.

I ordered the mussels to start, which came in a garlic cream sauce.

I had three tapas dishes for main – a smoked salmon salad, pate and meatballs. A bit of a strange mix, you might think, but I just decided to order my favourite things! All dishes were well presented and good value. The others had pasta and risotto for main and all gave good reports.

Smoked salmon salad

We got through a couple of bottles of pinot and the bill worked out at a reasonable £25 each.

Lucia would be easy to miss in York. It is on Swinegate Court East, just off Swinegate. I would recommend it for a varied menu and good value. The outdoor courtyard is great in the summer and the food is of a good standard.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Carluccio's, Leeds City Centre

When you have a vegetarian in your midst, an Italian restaurant is a good choice. One of the school friends has not eaten meat or fish since the age of 13, and unlike lots of other vegetarians and even vegans I have known, she has never buckled. This is admirable, but it means that when we plan the school friends’ lunches, we have to avoid any restaurants with “Grill” or “Steak” in the name, or as the Veggie calls them, “Evil parlours of cow-death”.

Anyway, we have generally found that Italian restaurants are very vegetarian friendly – pizza and pasta can be done equally well without meat. So we decided to try Carluccio’s, the new place on Greek Street.

On entering, there is a shop/deli area, where you can pick up coffee, a drink or even buy some Italian ingredients (the olive oils looked great!). To the left is the restaurant. I had booked online so we were quickly shown to one of the booths.

I ordered Pasta Crisps to start, just to see what they were! I shared them with the veggie. A little dry, and probably more suited to a side dish, not a starter.

For main, I had Milanese di Pollo - breaded chicken, served with a green salad. I also ordered rosemary new potatoes on the side. Although it was a fairly plain dish, it was very pleasant. I have a bit of a weakness for anything in breadcrumbs, probably a throwback to my love of fishfingers and chicken burgers as a kid (although this was much better quality, of course). The veggie enjoyed the spinach and ricotta ravioli.

A bottle of Pinot Grigio was ordered for the table. We managed to sink a fair few glasses before moving on.

I have since revisited Carluccio’s twice: once for after dinner cheese with some wine (sat outside and watched the world go by); and once for morning coffee (sat at the bar in the deli). It is a really pleasant restaurant with lots of outdoor seating for the summer months. Service is excellent and the prices are pretty standard for Italian food.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sushi Hiroba, Kingsway, London

The conveyer belt sushi restaurant is a marvellous invention. So far I have only experienced Yo Sushi, so I was delighted to discover another one, Sushi Hiroba, on Kingsway in London. The conveyer belt style is known as “Kaiten-zushi” (thanks, Wikipedia). It particularly suits my enjoyment not only of eating food, but looking at it as well!

We were in London for the Taste Festival, but fancied some sushi for Friday night dinner. We were quickly seated at the bar and given menus. The food is priced in the same way as Yo, with coloured plates indicating the cost of the food. The conveyer belt was pleasingly full, and I enjoyed my usual choice of Salmon Maki along with a range of sushi rolls. Sushi Hiroba is probably a bit more adventurous with their roll designs, as I kept seeing a roll filled with a slice of banana passing by on the belt. (I didn’t try this one as it breaks the Leeds Food Leads rule of food – no sweet with savoury. This applies to Hawaiian pizzas, gammon with pineapple, and now I find, sushi).

Service was a little slow – it took a while for our drinks to arrive. The hot food we ordered arrived promptly, however. We managed about eight small plates each.

I would recommend Sushi Hiroba. The choice in Leeds is fairly limited so if you are a sushi fan, it is always worth checking out what’s available in other cities.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Taste Festival, London

I have never been to Glastonbury. I am not mad for sweating in a tent and plodding my way through mud. The latter, however, I did gladly at the Taste Festival in Regent Park last weekend. No dodgy burgers here, either – instead a delightful array of restaurants selling taster portions of their wares and a massive range of food market stalls.

So despite not bringing wellies to London, thereby ruining a lovely pair of shoes, A and I set off promptly at 5.30pm to the Festival. There were no queues, so we got straight in and despite the rain, were determined to have a great foodie experience.

A had his first Jamaican food experience at the Foodies Festival in Roundhay Park last year, so we were happy to see a Jamaican themed village, and A immediately got his beef pattie fix. Walking around the festival, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer choice of food on offer. Lots of the market stalls offered tastes of cheese, wine, olive oils – and I bought some garlic mayonnaise made with rapeseed oil.

The restaurants represented at the festival included Gary Rhodes’ place, some Gordon Ramsay restaurants (Maze, York & Albany, Petrus), and quite a few Michelin stars. The restaurants were offering taster portions of starters, mains and puddings and you paid for them with festival Crowns – the currency that you either order in advance, or buy at the various “banks” around the festival.

From Petrus, I tried the Pea and mint mousse with goat’s curd and pancetta.

I also got a portion of Beef rendang from Awana, my first real taste of Malaysian food (it was very good!).

For pudding, I returned to another Gordon Ramsay restaurant, York & Albany, to try the Spiced cherry compote, lemon mascarpone, honeycomb and granola. An excellent, light pudding – I especially liked the honeycomb and granola topping for that added crunch.

We tried a range of other dishes including a Fried Dim Sum Platter from Yauatcha; Soft shell crab from The Modern Pantry and a Shrimp and scallop burger from Scott’s, all excellent. I just wish I had room to try even more!

As well as the food, we attended a wine tasting session with Grossi Wines, where we were given the opportunity to try four different Italian whites. One was the obligatory Pinot, so I was happy, although trying other grape varieties was interesting (except for the Sauvignon – hate the stuff!)

And the added bonus to the Taste Festival was the fact there was no tent involved, just a lovely hotel room in the Holiday Inn.

I will end this report with a gratuitous shot of a hot dog (actually a Top Dog Deluxe from Gauthier Soho).... Enjoy!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Browns, Leeds city centre

Sunday brunch or breakfast is something I always like the idea of, but by the time I have got myself in gear on a Sunday morning, it is usually time for a roast lunch rather than a fry-up. But today we got organised and got ourselves into town before the shops had even opened! So we decided to give the breakfast a try in Browns.

I have been to Browns for dinner in the past and always had a nice time there. When we arrived about half ten, we were the first customers and were promptly seated. A ordered a latte and I had a white coffee. Both of us ordered the full English breakfast.

The breakfast is definitely “full” – bacon, Cumberland sausage, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, beans and eggs. Eggs can be fried, scrambled or poached – we both chose poached. The yolks were on the slightly over done side, with not much runny yolk to mop up with bread. The bread is sliced ciabatta, possibly to give it that "posh" feel, but I think I prefer traditional white sliced toast. The bacon and sausage, however, were lovely and the presentation was excellent. (A Leeds Food Leads pet peeve is food being crammed onto a too-small plate so that it all gets mushed together - not a problem here, the square plate was a good size for all the different elements of the breakfast!)

Browns has an art deco feel, with a bit of Parisian bistro thrown in. It is a large restaurant which has always been busy when I have gone in the evening. Although it was quiet when we were there, it was early and I imagine it gets busier as the shoppers start piling in for lunch. Cost for two breakfasts and coffees was around £20. Reasonable value for a decent breakfast.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

All Bar One, Millennium Square, Leeds city centre

All Bar One on Millennium Square has replaced the old Ha Ha Bar and Canteen, the scene of many a school friends’ lunch in the past. So for Sarah T’s birthday, we decided to meet up for some drinks and food on a Friday night. A slightly earlier start was had by the birthday girl and SH as they could get to Leeds after an early finish at work. No such luck for me and H. We were “spending the afternoon with tongue stuck to roof of mouth for want of prosecco” as H eloquently put it, but we both made it in a little later.

The layout of the new All Bar One is pretty similar to the old Ha Ha. The place has had a bit of a redecorate though, and looks better for it. We were shown to our booth and decided to order a bottle of prosecco, to toast the birthday girl. Sadly, they had run out of our favourite Italian fizz so we were offered a bottle of champagne at the same price, which was a pretty good exchange.

We decided to stick with the small plates menu – perfect for picking but not too much to finish you off and send you home with a too-full belly. We chose the duck which came on mini-tortillas with cucumber and hoi-sin sauce. This is the All Bar One take on Chinese crispy duck with pancakes and they do it very well. It is served on a plank of wood which all adds to a very good presentation.

The tempura chicken looks quite heavy and yet the batter is very light and it is served with a good dipping sauce – always a winner for me.

For the vegetarian in our midst, hummus with pitta bread hit the spot.

We ordered some other small plates as the evening progressed – that’s the beauty of this type of eating. It generally suits my tendency to graze and also makes sure you don’t get too full! I can never understand how some people can go out and have a full curry and then go out drinking till the early hours. Bizarre.

All Bar One does about three different types of Pinot Grigio, and they had sold out of them all when we were there. We had a Pinot Grigio/Riesling instead and it was okay. Bit of a shame, really, as I always think of All Bar One as having a wide selection of wine. The waiter said there had been a do the night before and they had sold out of a lot of stock. (The service, by the way, was excellent).

It wasn’t a very pleasant evening weather-wise but I imagine the outdoor area on Millennium Square will be more used when the sun comes out (of should I say if....?)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Engine House Cafe, Holbeck Urban Village, Leeds

We seem to be becoming regulars in this part of Leeds! A loves the Midnight Bell, as he is a fan of Leeds Best beer, and we have enjoyed the Sunday lunch at the Cross Keys. So last night we decided to try one of the restaurants round the back of these two pubs. Looking at the menus online, it was a choice between The Foundry and The Engine House Cafe. After much deliberation, the Engine House won. This was partly owing to it being a bit cheaper (and we are getting to the end of the month) and partly because I wanted to try their burger!

So we booked a table for 7.30 but set off a bit earlier so we could have a drink on the patio round the back of the Midnight Bell (and A could have a couple of pints of his favourite beer). We turned up at the Engine House promptly at 7.30 and we were shown to our table.

I was a bit concerned about the lack of Pinot Grigio by the glass on the online menu, but the wine list at the restaurant was slightly different so my wine choice was available (although served in a bowl-like glass which I would argue was more for red wine than for white!)

We decided to share a starter of deep fried king prawns with garlic mayonnaise. Four large king prawns were served with some lettuce leaves. We both noticed what good quality prawns they were – very meaty and covered in a crispy batter.

For main, A ordered the rib eye steak which came with chips and a peppercorn sauce. This got the thumbs up from A, particularly the sauce which contained whole peppercorns and was great for dipping the chips in, as well as eating with the steak.

I got to sample the burger. This was made of 80% steak mince and 20% pork belly. There was a choice of toppings and I went for bacon, mushroom and cheese. I asked for the bacon to be trimmed of fat as my heart always sinks when I order bacon and it has loads of rubbery rind on it – a Leeds Food Leeds pet peeve! My friend, the GemBear, refers to it as “twangy bacon” – a very good description, I think.

Anyway, there was no twangy bacon on this burger. It was a large burger patty with just the right amount of topping. My only criticism was the bun – it was a bit “Morrisons – six bread rolls for the price of four”. Which is great for sausage sandwiches at home, but I expect a better quality for a burger bun in a restaurant! It was a shame because the burger itself was outstanding.

The burger was served with home-cooked chips, salad and a salsa for dipping – all excellent.

A considered a pudding. There isn’t a pudding menu and instead the waitress just reeled off the options (she must have an excellent memory). The pudding options change regularly and sadly there was no crème brulee on last night, which is A’s favourite, so we decided to give it a miss, although the options did sound lovely, and I would have ordered one if I had had room!

The service in general is great – the people who work there are really friendly and the customer service is top-notch.

I would definitely recommend the Engine House Cafe. I would like to try their breakfasts which were listed on a chalkboard on the wall. The restaurant itself is fairly small with exposed brick and a slightly industrial feel, which fits in well with the theme of the area. They have a small outdoor area where it would be lovely to sit out on a sunny day.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Kendells Bistro, Leeds city centre

Kendells has been “on the list” for some time and after our recent trip to Paris, we felt it was about time we sampled the French-inspired flavours of its menu. I left it a bit late to book and was only able to get a table for 5.30pm, but being rather lightweight, we don’t mind an early dinner. It means I can go to sleep early!

So we turned up at the Playhouse district of Leeds at around 5.15 and nipped into the Wardrobe for a quick drink. This was the venue of many a work night out in the past, but I haven’t been for some time. It hasn’t changed much and I must make a point of trying out their menu again sometime.

Anyway, after a very speedy glass of prosecco, we went next door to Kendells and were quickly seated. Although it only opens at 5.30, the place started to fill up pretty quickly, probably with the pre-theatre crowd.

The menu is on a large blackboard on the wall of the restaurant and they have a special deal before 7pm which is 2 courses for £15.95, 3 for £17.95, with a choice of about five different starters and mains. The a la carte is more extensive with some really interesting dishes, including frogs’ legs!

We decided to go with the special deal and for starter I had oeuf en meurette. This was a poached egg with lardons, onions and toast served with a red wine sauce. It was well presented and a very pleasant, light starter.

For main I had a salmon fishcake which was served with smoked salmon on the side. The presentation was excellent, with a serving of mash, and a small tower of broccoli and cauliflower which was so well designed on the plate it was difficult to identify at first! Although my inability to see may have been partly owing to the dim lighting in the restaurant.

No pinot grigio on the menu, sadly, so Gembear and I sampled the Grenache, a pleasant rose. I gave pudding a miss as I was pretty full – the portions, although beautifully presented, were not small.

We will definitely visit again. There were a few things on the menu I would like to try. Service is pleasant and efficient and although a fairly big room, the decor is cosy and rustic.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Anthony's Patisserie

Two pairs of shoes into a quick shopping trip in Leeds is about the right time to stop for lunch. Anthony’s Patisserie in the Victoria Quarter has a surprisingly varied menu for a small place including sandwiches, pasta, jacket potatoes and salads.

I ordered tea and an egg mayonnaise and bacon sandwich. This came on a sub roll and was generous with the filling. It was served with kettle chips on the side.

Mum had chorizo and tomato pasta, which was a generous portion for the reasonable price of £6.50.

Service was efficient and the setting is lovely – a quick review for a quick lunch!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Kobe, Horsforth

Kobe is part of the Arc Inspirations group which also owns, among others, Napa in Roundhay and the Arc in Headingley. The great thing about Kobe in Horsforth is that they have a brilliant outdoor area, with chairs, tables and booths. The area is covered and is great for sitting out on a warm day and enjoying a drink or a meal. We did both!

Food is ordered at the bar and waiters bring it to the table. Service is efficient and friendly.

I chose the chicken and chorizo salad with green beans, new potatoes, sweet peppers and a poached egg. There seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment of putting poached eggs with different things. Recently I have had it with salad and in a soup! I am enjoying this trend. I like eggs (despite getting salmonella poisoning in the late 1980s when it was very fashionable!).

The salad was served with some strips of pitta bread, which was great for mopping up the egg yolk.

Kobe seems to be popular for food at lunchtime. The outdoor area was busy and lots of people were eating. Not surprising really – a good bar and nice food!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

L’Atelier Etoile de Joel Robuchon, Paris

My first taste of Michelin starred food was at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas a few years ago. Since then, I have been on a bit of a mission to visit other Robuchon restaurants, and have so far been to the one in London and Paris St Germain. Last weekend we went to Paris for a few days and managed to tick another one off the list, the recently opened L’Atelier Etoile de Joel Robuchon.

The restaurant was a bit of nightmare to find, at the top of the Champs Elysees but actually within a shop called the Drugstore. Down some steps within the store we came across the typical red and black design of Robuchon restaurants. Inspired by a sushi bar, diners are seated at a long bar around an open-style kitchen, so you can see your food being prepared. Despite not having a reservation, coats were taken and we were shown to some bar stools.

Amuse bouche
 Our pathetically limited French wasn’t too much of a disadvantage as our waiter spoke English and was happy to explain some of the options on the menu. Although there are traditional starters and mains, we decided to go with the tasting dishes – small plates of Robuchon creations!

An amuse bouche was brought out first – a shot glass with a jelly-like substance. I heard the waiter say something about fennel but the rest of the ingredients escaped me. No matter, it was delicious.

The first of my small plates was aubergine soup with a poached egg, mushrooms and small slices of ham. From the picture, you can see a mesh-like decoration in the middle – I am uncertain what this is but it looked good, and tasted good too! Although quite a mixed bag of a dish, all the flavours went well together.

We decided to share our next course. This was “Le Burger” Robuchon-style. The dish was actually split into two plates which was a nice touch. Le Burger is a tiny beef burger, topped with fois gras and bell peppers, in the smallest bun I have ever seen! It came with a side of crinkle cut fries and homemade ketchup. “Better than McDonalds?” the waiter enquired after we had demolished it. Just a bit.

My third and final plate was “La Caille” – quail stuffed with fois gras and the infamous Robuchon mash. I have heard different things about this mash, from it being a third butter to half butter. It is incredibly rich and creamy and you can’t eat much of it. But it is amazing!

We missed out dessert. Despite the portions being small, the food is very rich and it is surprising how full we felt.

The only mistake I made was ordering the wrong wine. I am not much of an expert on French wine, so ordered the cheapest. It was a Columbard/Sauvignon and it was awful. I replaced it with a glass of red because I think it is harder to get an undrinkable red wine.

So another wonderful experience was had at Joel Robuchon. It is not cheap, but then neither is Paris in general so it is well worth a visit. It is not stuffy or formal and we felt we were made very welcome with great service from the various servers. Outstanding.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Carriages, Knaresborough

The regular school friends’ lunch had a twist last Saturday as it was one of our number’s 40th birthday. A surprise lunch out in Knaresborough followed by some embarrassing karaoke in Leeds was planned down to the last minute, with transport generously provided by one of the husbands.* So four ladies and a husband piled into the Zafira and roared off up the A1 with two labradoodles in the back.
Carriages is a lovely cosy restaurant with a comfortable bar area and tables available in a few different rooms. There is a lunch menu and a tapas menu, so we decided to order some tapas and a bottle of Pinot.

Two tapas portions each seemed to be about right, but we also ordered a few extras – patatas bravas, olives and garlic bread.

Scallops and crab were served in a shell. A really generous serving of scallops, considering this was a tapas dish, and presented in a lovely creamy sauce.

I was keen to order the parma ham and quail egg salad and wasn’t disappointed. Tiny fried quail eggs complemented the ham and rocket leaves perfectly.

Cod pieces were served with pancetta and a creamy sauce on the side. 

Other dishes included huge green lipped mussels which were served with a tomato based sauce. A couple of vegetarian dishes were given the thumbs up by the non-carnivore in the group.

After lunch, we retired to the garden for our coffees – a covered area with a view of the valley. It almost felt like summer! The bill was provided promptly so we paid up and went to visit a few other Knaresborough hostelries.

Carriages is great – a lovely setting, great food and pleasant service. The evening menu was on a blackboard and looked wonderful. Maybe next time......

Side note: OK Karaoke in Leeds afterwards was a revelation. A private room, snacks and Pinot were provided and a massive selection of songs was available for us to systematically murder. Brilliant place.

*we are not practicing polygamists, this was H’s husband.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Brio, The Light, Leeds city centre

Brio is great if you are starving. I was starving as I had been up at the crack of dawn and not considered breakfast. So when I arrived at 12pm, I was determined to order a big bowl of pasta. I wasn’t disappointed – the Rigatoni Bolognese was a huge portion and generous on the meat Bolognese sauce. We also shared a side dish of garlic tomato bread which is excellent at Brio – a very thin base which is just how it should be.
Another plus is that they serve tea. I have decided that I don’t like soft drinks – fizzy pop and the like. If I am not on the wine, I would rather drink what I would drink at home – tea or coffee. So far this new plan is going well – the Roundhay Fox made tea for me, as did Brio.

This was a half term lunch with mum, sis and the nieces. Brio is a very family friendly place and lots of families were taking advantage of the children’s menu. It is not somewhere I would go to for a nice evening meal out, but for a hearty lunch during a shopping trip or before a visit to the Light’s cinema, it fits the bill.

My only criticism is that there was a bit of a “held-hostage” moment at the end. This is a Leeds Food Leads pet peeve. Despite mum practically waving the bill and her card in the air, and me pointedly standing up and putting my coat on, it took a while for someone to arrive and let us pay. Who knew it was so hard to part with your cash in Leeds?