OnRoundhay festival by Lucy Reynolds 

Last weekend, I was dancing around, beer in hand, to the strains of Primal Scream and James…in fact, I was so close to the stage, that I could count the spots on Bobby Gillespie’s pink shirt. This weekend, I’m sat in a conservatory, listening to the Archers, wishing I was back in Roundhay park. Thus is life. In fact, last weekend will take some beating, as it was the first OnRoundhay festival, in sponsorship with John Lewis. I am hoping with every fibre of my body that it will be the first of many as it was exactly the sort of thing that sets Leeds out as the jewel in the North (obviously, I’m biased, but I don’t care…LEEDSLEEDSLEEDS!). As we entered the grounds of the park, it was clear to see that this was a family affair, with hundreds of families queuing up to get in. As you entered, a glittery ON sign greeted you, with different pathways for every type of reveller: the Main Stage for the music fans, the Chef’s Stage and John Lewis Food Village for the foodies and the Puffin Magical Storytelling Stage for those with little people (who are probably desperate for a distraction). We chose the fourth pathway…the one to the bar! 



We went inside the guests’ area (I know right….fancy!) and plumped for prosecco, beating the queues at the other venues. There were plenty of bars set up around the site though, serving real ale, gin and even champagne – we found that magical moment of when a band had just hit the stage, meaning there were minimal queues. Festival skills 101! 

After getting our fill of fizz, we went for a wander around, checking out what to gorge on. The festival started at 12pm and we got there for 3pm. The park was already full of hungry mouths, and we saw the Ox Club stand, with spits of whole lamb busily roasting away.

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Next door were perennial Leeds favourites Patty Smith’s, serving up their dirty burgers which are already legendary at their normal home, the Belgrave. Rola Wala and Piggie Smalls were also busy serving their tasty wares, opposite the John Lewis Chef’s Stage. Seeing the queues for food, we decided to go and take a seat for the next talk, which was Stephano Corvucci, who runs CIBO (The Culinary Institute of Bologna). Taking our seat on the front row, it was easy to forget that we were at a festival, as we watched him being interviewed as he cooked a ricotta and spinach stuffed cannelloni, after expertly making the pasta from scratch. What I loved about Stephano’s talk was how honest he was about his food. When the presenter asked him how long it would take him to teach someone on his course to make fresh pasta, he said ‘a few hours’. If I had a cookery school, I’d drag it out enough to make as much money as I could…but then I’m an unscrupulous bastard. He seemed really relaxed, open and enthusiastic about his cookery and it really made me want to fly to Bologna to try it out myself…cookery, that is, not starting my own culinary school (see previous unscrupulous bastard comment). 

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After whetting our appetites with Stephano’s cookery, we went to decide what we wanted to eat. By now the queues were immense, so my friend and I took a split attack approach and queued up separately for Patty Smith’s and Yakumama. 

Impressed by the vibrant offerings from Yakumama, a food seller I’d not encountered before, we decided to go for the Tiger fries and an avocado brownie for afters. That was the starter and dessert sorted – and a Patty Smith’s dirty burger for our main. 


Now this was when things fell apart for us – rookie mistakes all over the place. We were hungry…nay, ravenous after the Chef’s Stage talk and didn’t realise what the waiting time for food would be like. As my friend queued for Yakumama for 40 minutes, I was still in line for Patty Smith’s, with no sign of getting anywhere near the front. After about 50 minutes, I got to the front to see that there were 12 tickets on order, meaning my order would be another 35-40 minutes. Hats off to the Patty Smith’s crew though, who were working their backsides off and being really apologetic to customers for the wait. I think just due to the size of the event, the food stalls were really pushed to the limit. My friend found me in the queue and had already eaten part of the tiger fries in an attempt to not eat her own arm off in hunger. I too tucked in the the beauteous pile of sweet potato fries, spring onion, fried chorizo, lime mayo and sriracha until there was none left and thought, later on, ‘fxxk…I didn’t take a photo of it.’ In fact, so incensed by our greedy actions, I got in touch with Yakumama, asking for any images of the fries, but I haven’t yet been able to find any of that particular dish. Maybe I dreamt it, in a hunger fuelled haze…we will never know. All I do know is that is was incredibly tasty and filled the hunger hole we had whilst waiting for our burgers. The avocado brownie was eaten during the James gig, and was absolutely delicious. It was moist with a rich chocolate taste that gave you a smug feeling that you were eating, in part, good fats due to the avocado. Chocolate and healthy = winner!


After our wait, we finally got our paws on the Patty Smith’s burgers and practically inhaled them, enjoying their trademark dirty sauce and slightly sweet brioche bun. 


Gorgeous, as ever. After a few more drinks, we settled in to watch the legendary Primal Scream play, and they were wonderful. Seriously, when Loaded started to play, I was so overjoyed, I felt like I had an almost religious epiphany…and Bobby Gillespie was God. At 54, boy can he move! Saying, that, he ain’t got the moves of James’s Tim Booth, who at 56, makes you feel like you could never have as much fun as he does on stage. He has some serious moves and the dude even crowd surfed whilst singing. With Wolf Alice playing beforehand, and Primal Scream and James topping the bill, it was an embarrassment of riches and a real coup for the first On Roundhay festival.

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In between bands, we walked around, looking at the other foodie offerings, though the queue sizes stayed impressively large. I chatted to someone who had just bought a broccoli laden Mac and cheese from the Mac Shac and seemed very pleased with his little tray full of pasta heaven. We also spied, but unfortunately didn’t have enough room for, a Yorkshire wrap from The Allotment, which was the ingenious idea of a Yorkshire pudding wrap with a myriad of meaty delights inside. Makes you proud to be in Yorkshire, doesn’t it?

All in all, OnRoundhay, to my mind, was a massive success. Even though the queues were huge, the food on offer was fantastic and if it encourages more indie food sellers to set up stall next year, then all for the better. The music was amazing and the whole atmosphere was brilliant – there’s not many festivals where families, foodies and hardcore festival goers can enjoy themselves in harmony. Here’s to next year! 

Thanks to Simon Fogal at Leeds Indie Food, John Lewis, Yakumama for the brownie photo and Ben Bentley for additional photos.

OnRoundhay Festival Preview, by Lucy Reynolds 

I am currently counting down the days to the OnRoundhay Festival on Saturday 17th September and I’m happy that it’s less than a month away now. Aside from the awesome combo of bands like Wolf Alice, Primal Scream and the mighty James, I am equally excited (OK, it’s food…I’m a lot more excited) about the John Lewis Food Village, which appears to offer a little bit of just about everything to the hungry festival goer. Leeds Indie Food are offering an embarrassment of riches, with Loiner legends Manjit’s Kitchen and Laynes Espresso, alongside a personal favourite of mine, The Madeleine Express, which is basically Noisette Bakehouse on wheels. If you haven’t tried one of Sarah’s cakes, you haven’t lived. The sea salt chocolate brownie is so delectable, you’d sell your granny to get another!

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Manjit’s Kitchen
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Laynes Espresso
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Madeleine Express

I’m not one to just stay with my tried and tested favourites though. After a lot of dancing and prancing to music, I will definitely be trying dishes from Clawhide, Bánh mì Booth, Yakumama and Piggie Smalls. It also appears to be the year of the ‘shack’ with The Mac Shac, Crabbieshack and Longhorn’s BBQ shack serving up tasty treats…I hope I actually have time to catch the music. There are even more food stalls to choose from…I’ll just have to fast for a week I suppose and then blog about my gluttony after, giving all my gastronomic choices the obligatory shout out. Phew, I feel stuffed already. 

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Claw hide
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Bánh mì Booth
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Yakumama’s tacos

And to top that, we have just had the exciting announcement that Olia Hercules, of Mamushka fame, is going to be part of the Chef line up, joining fellow gastronauts like Murray Wilson of Horto, Greg Lewis of Pintura and Simon Jewitt of Norse, along with other accomplished chefs from far and wide. So much to see and only one day – I’ll make sure to wear my running shoes to get around everything I want to see.

The OnRoundhay Festival marks the long awaited opening of the Leeds’ branch of John Lewis and I, for one, cannot wait! Just another jewel in Leeds’ crown – make this honorary Northerner a bit dewy eyed. Who needs London when you’ve got Leeds? 

http://www.onroundhayfestival.com

All photos courtesy of I Like Press


 

The Real Turk, Woking

Like many, my passions include food (obviously) and travel, especially combining the two where the country’s cuisine weaves itself into the fabric of a holiday. A few years ago we visited Istanbul and enjoyed the best of both worlds, with the city’s history, culture and great food heritage it was a great trip. 

In Woking, we’d walk passed an empty restaurant, which was difficult to miss being next door to our favourite post-gym breakfast! Then suddenly spring signs of hope with a new signage and menu in the window for The Real Turk. The place opened recently and we popped in one Friday, arriving early (6:30pm) we took the opportunity to sit outside, making the most of a rare sunny evening. Menu-wise, there’s always lots of choice with Turkish food, plenty of starters both hot and cold, of course lots of meat, but also a wide selection of vegetarian options. 

As there was just the two of us, I didn’t fancy a selection of mezze, much preferring it when there’s lots of you to choose a table full of tastes and textures. So scrapping that idea, we went for two favourites – fried squid and hellim, I never knew that was the Turkish/Cypriot for halloumi! I found the staff chatty and eager to please with service speedy throughout, bringing the starters within a few minutes. Both of which are relatively simple things to, but can be overdone with just as much ease. However, these were really good – my squid came with the lightest of batters, covering flesh that was just cooked through, needing little effort to enjoy. On the side, the accompanying tartar sauce wasn’t too strong and acidic, completely different to what you’d get on fish and chips, thankfully as I can’t stand the stuff!! The halloumi came thickly sliced, charred till soft and gave a good squeak!

I’d spotted photos on their meat platters on Facebook, thinking we’d be fully prepared for it especially after our tasty experience in Dubrovnik, but was still taken aback at its size; especially as there was also rice and huge plateful of salad to contend with! From the outset it was obvious we’d struggle eating it all in one sitting, don’t get me wrong it wasn’t any fault of the food!!

Full platter w/ lamb shish, chicken shish, adana kebab, chicken wings and izgara kofte 

There are few things which are more enjoyable to eat than well cooked pieces of meat and here was a good example of that, my favourites the wings and kofte. However, the inevitable happened which was great news for me, as I ate the rest the following day! I’m really looking forward to going again and trying something else off the menu. 

The Real Turk

75 Commercial Way

Woking

Surrey

http://therealturk.com

Ricci’s Tapas and Cicchetti and 53 Degrees North opening in Leeds, by Lucy Reynolds

Nestled on the corner of Infirmary Street, the opening of Ricci’s Tapas and Cicchetti and 53 Degrees North has been something that most foodies in Leeds have been waiting for with baited breath and salivating tastebuds. Restauranteur Michael Ricci, after gaining acclaim with his Halifax based restaurant and bar of the same name, is branching out into the opulence of the grade 2 listed building Goodbard House in Leeds, bringing a fusion of experimental Mediterranean tapas and exciting mixology. 

Arriving at the restaurant for their press launch evening, we were stamped with the phrase #diehappy, which also adorned the back of the t-shirts that all the staff wore. Quite a bold claim there, but I do like the confidence that comes with that statement and when you are handed a glass of elderflower champagne the minute you walk in a place, it sets off the tone of the evening nicely. 

Being eager beavers, we arrived dead on 6.30pm, which meant that there were still work men busily making final touches to the restaurant, which I quite like. It makes the anticipation even more heightened and really does show the huge effort that goes into the preparation of a place for its first public showing. The staff were brilliant, being incredibly attentive to us and always checking if we wanted another drink (the answer is always yes). When the launch finally got started, at around 6.45pm, the waiting staff began circulating with some incredibly tasty tapas treats, which are going to be on the regular menu from the 11th, which is when they open to the public.

Our first taste was salmon tartare, with miso creme fraiche, cucumber and capers on a soft tortilla, which was a wonderful, fresh mouthful. The caper’s salty zing worked well with the creme fraiche and the natural flavour of the salmon. We also had some deliciously seasoned squid, with a squeeze of charred lime, which is always a crowd pleaser and delightfully moreish.

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We managed to foster a friendship with some of the waiting staff, who obviously realised how greedy we were, as they made a beeline to us with each new plate of tapas, which were then greatly received with our NSFW groans and moans when we saw each new plate of food porn laid out in front of us. Our next offering was manchego cheese and bittersweet figs wrapped in Serrano Gran Reserva, dressed with a touch of balsamic glaze. It was delicious, and would be perfect with a cool crisp glass of Estrella. My friend Michaela loved this salty sweet mouthful so much that she near enough offered to sell her kidneys to the waiting staff to get them to bring her more. I suppose #diehappy doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all!

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We also greedily devoured a bowl of smoky chorizo slices and some beautifully arranged crab and avocado mousse treats, served inside a cherry tomato. These were bursting with flavour and again showcasing how fresh and seasonal the produce is, a factor that Ricci’s prides itself on.

Whilst my friend kept a beady eye out for more manchego cheese wrapped in Serrano ham, we were treated to a bowl of sweet potato wedges, figs, goat cheese, chilli, honey and pomegranate seeds. This was a real trip to the Mediterranean, with the heat of the chilli perfectly balancing with the sweet fig and potato wedges, the vibrant burst of pomegranate and the creamy, earthy cheese as a cool background note. 

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As I mentioned in my previous blog about the opening of Ricci’s, it currently holds the prestigious honour of being the only place in the UK to serve Estrella Galicia 1906 Reserva Especial on draught. 


From tasting the food, I can tell that most dishes would be perfectly paired with Spanish beer or wine, blending the citrus notes of the alcohol and the vibrancy of the flavours being used in the kitchen. In particular, the fried Padron peppers with Ibizan salt would be a perfect pairing with a cold glass of Estrella – close your eyes and imagine yourself in the sunset of Ibiza (blocking out the traffic of West Yorkshire, that is!)

Next up was an Iberico pork and Riojan chorizo burger, which was absolutely divine – juicy, well seasoned – a carnivore’s dream which elicited more inappropriate moans from my friend and I ( a must-try if you go in). If we weren’t yet on the edge of a hashtag happy death, we were just about finished off with a seared pigeon breast bruschetta, with pea and broad bean cream fraiche, and a dairy cow aged fillet bruschetta with sweet onions and peppers. Whilst my friend wasn’t too keen on the gamey pigeon, I enjoyed the flavour along with the creamy pea bed it was perched on. The aged cow fillet was definitely the show stopper though. It was so tender it would probably try to seduce you with a Barry White medley. The sweet onions and peppers complimented the joyous savoury smack of the beef – if I hadn’t already eaten myself close to a food coma, I would have had many more of these. 

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After nearly eating our weight in tapas, we decided it was time to experience 53 Degrees North, Ricci’s cocktail bar which is joined to the restaurant by a shiny lift style set of door, which offers a ‘sound scape’ whilst diners wait for one set of doors to close and another to open. Inside you are treated to a visual exploration through a field of greenery, whilst ambient chilled house music plays. An unusual and entertaining experience, but I do wonder what it will be like when it is 11pm on a Saturday night and, if it is anything like the lift doors in my apartment block, they jam, leaving you to hammer desperately on the doors whilst chill- out tunes drown out your cries. Sorry – got a bit carried away with myself there…and there is a corridor that joins the two buildings together too so my vision of claustrophobic panic needn’t be a reality. 

When we entered 53 Degrees North (named after the line of latitude that the original bar lies on in Halifax), the atmosphere seemed much more relaxed – that Balearic sound scape must have worked a treat. The bar is central and open, offering a 360 degree view of the surroundings, with DJ booth in one corner, and a fringed off area in the other, possibly for VIP seating/ private parties when the bar opens to the public. There is a sense of eclecticism to the furnishings, with luxurious beige velvet booths to sit in around the bar, and exposed brick work and metal pipes which seem to be de rigueur in most trendy bars nowadays. If you take a little walk around the building, and down to the hidden gin bar near the bathrooms (and a private boardroom and dining area) you experience some amazing graffiti art by Ben Allen. I’m a massive fan of street art and often prefer to search for this when I travel instead of looking at the tourist favourite art works in galleries. Allen’s work is fantastic and deserves more than a moments consideration when you are on your way down to the bathrooms after one too many cocktails. 

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Talking of cocktails, we managed to have a look at the menu and were blown away by the range on offer. Due to this being a launch night, there was a limited selection on offer to the press (fair enough) so we plumped for a passion fruit champagne cocktail and a Bull Dog G&T. The passion fruit cocktail came with a shot of champagne, which was an unexpected but lovely surprise, and the G&T came festooned with a smattering of lavender on top (not such a lovely surprise). Now, don’t get me wrong – these two things are a joy to behold. Gin and tonic is one of my favourite drinks and lavender is one of my favourite scents, and I understand how lavender could really compliment some of the botanical undertones of the gin. But when I have the insides of a potpourri bag emptied into my glass, it just means that I have to spend the next ten minutes pulling lavender buds and stalks from my teeth as I try to drink. My friend even laughed at me until she tried to do the same thing, which I caught on camera for comedic value. Maybe the lavender, if so essential to that brand of gin, could have been made into a syrup or sugar that could have been mixed in with the drink or placed around the side of the glass? As lovely as a shower of lavender looks in a glass, it doesn’t enhance the drinking experience and means you end up having to drink with a straw, when I feel G&T should be sipped, especially when in such lovely large glasses. 

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Aside from lavender stalks in my teeth, I think that Ricci’s pairing of innovative cocktails and exciting Mediterranean cuisine is a real boon for Leeds. Yes, Leeds is bursting at the seams with similar places, but Ricci’s has a unique identity all of its own and most importantly, the food is amazing and the price is reasonable. Set in the financial heart of Leeds, I can see many suits clamouring to get a seat in here, and with the added bonus of the Ibizan DJ booth in 53 Degrees North, it holds the potential to be an up and coming music venue in the future too. You could go for a meal then transport yourself, via the soundscape lift, into the cool interior of the cocktail bar, without stepping outside into the inevitable Yorkshire rain. Now that’s got to be worth a few sprigs of lavender in your teeth. 

Ricci’s Tapas & Cicchetti

Goodbar House

15 Infirmary Street

Leeds

LS1 2JS

http://riccistapasandcicchetti.co.uk/leeds/

Photos by Lucy Reynolds and The Influencer  Group. 

Chaophraya Graduation Menu, by guest blogger Lucy Reynolds 

With all the new pop-ups and high profile restaurants opening in Leeds, it is easy to often forget the old faithfuls that have served the city amazing food well before the culinary revolution of the last few years had taken hold. Chaophraya is one of those places – a steadfast beacon of high quality, traditional Thai cuisine in beautiful surroundings which seems to have always been in Leeds, and well respected as a place for fine dining. Due to the saturation of new places opening in Leeds, offering competitively high quality fare, it does make you wonder how older establishments compete with the new influx of trendy eating spots, including award winning Zaap, which boasts Thai street food. I think the answer has to be quality – or to put it more bluntly (yet grammatically incorrect) : if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!  
I had been to Chaophraya years ago and was very impressed with the exotic interiors of the restaurant and the sumptuousness of the food (not to mention the traditional procession with drum beating which seemed to happen comically every time my friend and I were having an in-depth conversation). This time round, nearly 6 years later, nothing had changed. It looked exactly the same and had the same sense of class and glamour that I had remembered from my first visit. Even my friend, who works as a chef and who had accompanied me as my plus one, commented on how fancy it was – and that was just the bar area. 

The event we had been invited to was the launch of their new Graduation menu, tied in with a few of the other experience packages they offer, like the cooking school and cocktail making masterclasses. We felt really lucky to be taking part in this as there were only two other bloggers there, which gave us a glimpse of what a private cooking class might feel like. After a complimentary glass of bubbly, we were whisked upstairs to the demonstration area, where Fon, our lovely hostess, showed us how to make our first delicacy, sweet corn cakes. We all donned a surgical rubber glove (and avoided the inappropriate gags running round our brains) and got stuck in, mixing sweet corn, red Thai curry paste, flour and eggs and making small patties to be fried. It was easy, fun and lovely to see them all fluffed up after being cooked. We also tried our hand at making vegetarian Thai spring rolls, with the help of the amazing Lady Noi, a senior chef from the restaurant who could chop vegetables up at lightning speed and work a wok like a true culinary artist. After she had cooked our fillings for the rolls, it was now our chance at donning an apron, a tall paper chef’s hat and mimicking Lady Noi’s effortless spring roll preparation. Whereas hers took seconds, mine took minutes and whilst my first effort looked like a flabby Swiss roll, after a bit of practice, I had actually learnt how to roll a spring roll. Chiyo! as they’d say in Thailand.(Yes, I googled that). Fon also taught us how to make golden baskets too, with a skilful twist on the tying of the same wrap used for spring rolls

After cleaning up, we sat down to our beautiful set table and were promptly served with our homemade sweetcorn cakes and spring rolls with lashings of sweet chilli sauce. Alongside these we also received two more of the Graduation menu appetisers, with scallops and black pudding and Mahoh (finely diced pork, with palm sugar, sweet turnips and peanuts, served on pineapple) being served up with a real eye for artistry.

Our Sweetcorn cakes were absolutely delicious (definitely something I’m going to try to cook at home) and the Spring rolls were crispy, light and delicious when dipped in the addictive chilli sauce. The Mahoh, whilst looking like little peanut butter balls resting on the back of a pineapple swan, were less appetising, being far too sweet for my palate. I couldn’t taste the pork at all and it didn’t appeal to me or my diners, but I’m sure the sweet toothed may enjoy it. The real star of the appetiser line up though was the scallops and black pudding which, Fon told us to our horror, was being taken off the menu due to not being as popular as the other dishes. This would be a gastronomic tragedy! The scallop was perfectly cooked, with juicy slices of mango and spicy chilli, which were perched on what has to be the best slice of black pudding I have ever tasted. Everyone sat at our table agreed how wonderful this dish was, so I hope this heartfelt plea stops the powers that be at Chaophraya from removing this from the menu. Save our scallops!

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The portion sizes for the appetisers were incredibly generous,so much so that we had to take some home with us (my colleagues at work were jealous the next day – spring rolls beat sandwiches any day). Our main meals were then presented, again with hugely generous portion sizes, offering up roasted duck in red curry, steamed sea bass with ginger and soy sauce and wok chicken noodle with sriracha sauce and a mountain of steaming egg fried rice.

Each meal was as delicious as the next, with the sea bass fillets beautifully dripping in sticky soy emulsion and the tender duck being strangely yet deliciously complimented by a mixed berry sauce which worked well with the spice of the red curry. The sriracha dish was probably my favourite, as I am a huge hot sauce fan, with the soft noodle and tender chicken melting in the mouth and the spice being well balanced so as not to overpower the tastebuds. From looking at the menu, vegetarians also have a great choice for the mains, with a veggie green curry, sweet and sour crispy tofu and stir fried aubergine and basil being offered. 

After filling up another take away box with the delicious remnants of our mains, we were faced with the task of making our own fruity cocktail. Headed by a friendly barman from the restaurant, we all learnt how to properly mix our cocktail, blending mixed berry purées with a shot of vanilla vodka and Chambord and shaking it like a Polaroid picture. It was wonderful fun and the cocktail tasted brilliant – so fruity that you hardly noticed there was any booze in it – dangerous and moreish, like a good cocktail should be. This was then followed up by our dessert, a bubbling chocolate fondue with exotic fruits served in a pineapple. A lovely fresh way to end the meal, although none of us were sure about the combination of pineapple and chocolate, so stuck with the old favourite of strawberries instead. 

In my opinion, if you had just graduated, Chaophraya would be a great place to celebrate, with the opulence of the surroundings and the high quality of food adding to your special day. The set menu is innovative and delicious and would satisfy anyone’s taste buds, especially if the black pudding dish remains. The cooking demos and cocktail classes are great fun (Lady Noi is a legend!) and would be suitable for hen parties, birthdays or any get together with like-minded friends who love good food and getting their hands dirty. Chaophraya may not be one of the newest restaurants in Leeds, but it is one of the best, showing that quality always keeps people coming back for more. 

Chaophraya

20A Blayds Court

Swinegate

Leeds

LS1 4AG

http://chaophraya.co.uk/venues/chaophraya-leeds/

Photos by Lucy Reynolds

Hi, I'm Diane and welcome to my blog. I'm currently hopping between Leeds and the South finding the best and the worst in food and drink whilst on my travels. You'll find reviews and recommendations, sometimes the odd thing about running, travel and my life in general.

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