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?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Fazenda Rodizio Bar and Grill, Leeds city centre

After a few drinks in The Hop, we had a table booked at Fazenda for an early dinner on Saturday. On the website it says “a unique dining experience - we are proud to bring you all the tradition behind the unique and original Brazilian way of serving meat”. Walking through the doors, we were invited to have a drink at the bar before being shown to our table. Fazenda serves a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio.

We were seated in a booth, where we were told about the “Fazenda experience”. Basically, you get a card rather like a beer mat that is red on one side, green on the other. When you want meat, you turn the card to green and a server arrives with a large skewer of meat and proceeds to cut some off. Each diner is given a pair of tongs for taking the meat from the server. All sorts of choices appear - rump steak, ribs, lamb, pork, chicken and some salmon served from a trolley. When you want the meat to stop coming, you turn the card to red.

In addition to all this meat, there is a buffet with a huge choice of salads, including cous cous, coleslaw and potato. There are quite a few appetizer items as well, including sushi rolls (which I was not expecting but was very pleased to see!) The servers also brought other sides to the table including chips, cheese bread and empanadas.

The buffet!

For pudding, R had the Toffee pancakes, which looked great.

The place became busy pretty quickly, even though it was still early. I believe this would be a great place to go in a large group, as you would avoid the problem of waiting for everyone to be served, while your food goes cold, which seems to happen in some restaurants.

The Fazenda eating experience is not really me, though. I think I am a bit underwhelmed with buffets, as I have had my fill of those on our many trips to Vegas. I am also not a massive meat-eater. I eat meat often, but my eyes are never automatically drawn to steaks on a normal menu, and I don’t believe that lots of meat makes a meal that memorable.

In addition, I found it quite interesting that certain meats were coming thick and fast to the table, but there was no filet mignon to be seen, despite it being on the menu. After a few visits to our table with other meats, one of the servers quite abruptly asked us what we were waiting for. We said the filet, and finally it arrived.

Despite this, I am glad we went and tried it – I had seen it reviewed in a few places and it sounded like an interesting experience. It is definitely suitable for a more committed carnivore than for me.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Roundhay Fox, Roundhay, Leeds

Back to the Roundhay Fox for lunch last Saturday. Not as busy as a Sunday and so we easily got a table for six adults and two children. A and I shared a pot of tea in the bar while we waited for our dining companions and we were all shown to a table quickly when they arrived.
The menu is extensive and so I spent ages trying to decide. They have a set menu with a number of choices on for £8 for two courses, £10 for three, which is really good value. I decided to choose from the main menu though and settled for the sesame chicken starter that I had last time!

For main, I ordered homemade haddock fishcakes, which came with chips, side salad and a herb mayonnaise. The fishcakes were full of fish and very pleasant. Presentation is excellent.

I couldn’t manage a pudding, but SH ordered the Banoffee Cheesecake which looked amazing.

I am impressed with the Roundhay Fox. Second visit and still great. A step up from basic pub food in a really nice atmosphere.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Bird by Vineet, Alea Casino, Leeds

Another trip to the casino meant trying their other restaurant, Bird. A Lemon drop Martini in the bar before dinner needed to be sipped, not glugged, and I think I pulled it off. I am not used to delicate small drinks so I had to put the glass down between sips to ensure I didn’t neck it in seconds. It was a perfect drink to begin the evening.

A few rounds of Blackjack saw me twenty quid down, but A was about fifty up so thankfully saved my bacon and bought my dinner. Seated in Bird by nine, we were provided with menus along with poppadoms and dips.

Bird has quite an unusual Indian menu although some of the dishes were familiar.  Sarah T and I decided to share the Street Food selection for starter. This came served in cones, a brilliant presentation. It was made up of onion bhaji, paneer salad, mini samosas, Goan chicken wings and fish amritsari. This is a great sharing plate which I would really recommend – not too much to fill you up and gives you the opportunity to try different flavours.

The main courses were great and you can order them in half portions which are perfect for Indian food as too often, there is way too much and I end up needing to lie flat and nap. We ordered the Lamb Bhuna and Saffron Chicken Korma.

Steamed rice and keema nan on the side complemented the dishes perfectly and were great for mopping up the sauces.

Bird is a lovely restaurant and really good value. There are a few set menus you can have which looked like a great deal, but we wanted to try the a la carte. There were not many diners but perhaps it gets busy later when the gamblers have lost their shirts at the tables. We prefer to break up the gambling with a nice meal, and Bird fits the bill perfectly.

I read today that James Martin is opening up a restaurant in Alea soon. I can’t wait to try it when it does but really hope it is not replacing Bird.

Edit:  Turns out the James Martin restaurant will replace Fig, not Bird, and will be opening in March.  Can't wait!