The Swine That Dines – small plates! 

‘The Swine That Dines’ – the alter ego of The Greedy Pig, you know the place…the one that makes arguably the best breakfast in Leeds, does wonders with nose to tail dining, make incredible scotch eggs and knows a thing or two about pies? Well they’ve started serving up a menu of small plates, just on Friday evenings for now; the first one being last night. In their own way The Greedy Pig quietly announced their new menu on social media a few days ago, alongside a brand spanking new logo – which somehow shows a knowing simplicity, it’s to the point and possesses an unfussiness which suits their style down to the ground. This is something they’ve been wanting to do for ages and now seems the right time to set their stall out.

The Swine That Dines

So what about the menu, with Stu’s background in Modern British cuisine he’s developed a seven plate menu that follows this train of thought. The menu’s written simply with core ingredients listed, I love how they don’t play it safe with the choice of meat (ox tongue, goat and rabbit), I also loved some of the terminology they’ve used like Penny Bun, which Jo informed us was the English name for a cep or porcini mushroom and instead of using the word boudin, they’ve stuck with the humble sausage!

With each dish being comparable to a starter portion, it was suggested 2-3 plates per person which probably sounded about right. Even though I’d looked at the menu on Instagram countless times, I was still finding it hard to narrow my chosen few down, so fortunately for me I was joined by a fellow food lover I’d met before at different events. This gave us both the perfect opportunity to try most of the dishes – picking 6 of the 7, leaving out the ox tongue as we’d eaten that before. I won’t go into all the details of each dish as I think it may ruin it for you, but here are some shots of the plates we enjoyed. 

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Rabbit/Penny Bun/sausage
Goat/fennel/green sauce
Halloumi/marinated beetroot/walnut
Bean/fenugreek/tomato
Wings/avocado/sumac
Asparagus/courgette/lemon

I implore you to go and try it for yourself because the food is great, admittedly I’m a fan of The Greedy Pig, however just see for yourself and I hope you’ll be thanking me. For six plates and some bread setting us back £31.50 between two of us, it was pretty bargainous, and as always service is warm and friendly. Their honest approach just shines through and after having already missed all of their themed suppers, I really wanted to make it this time!!

For now it’s a BYOB affair and while they are settling in they aren’t taking bookings at the moment, so just turn up and expect a good feed. 

The Swine That Dines will be serving small plates every Friday 6-9pm, with the possibility of a Saturday service and a wider menu choice in the future too. 

The Greedy Pig

58 North Street 

Leeds

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Greedy-Pig/101684753228381

Sunday Brunch @ Kopapa, London

Last weekend I had a couple of important things to think about, first was the other half’s birthday and second running the City of London Mile at St Paul’s Cathedral. Regular readers may know I like running, really my only means of staying moderately fit and burn off all the food I eat!! I’d never really done an official timed short race before, so this was kinda new and was gonna be a little test of my speed more than stamina. A definite bonus was the event was *free*, yes indeed it didn’t cost me a penny, something that hardly ever happens, excluding the fantastic Park Run that is!! Completely sponsored by Amba Hotels and even better I’d get a medal to show for my efforts!!! Apart from the whole running like a lunatic to try and get fitter, being handed the bling when crossing the finishing line is brilliant. Lots of my running friends love building their collection of race t-shirts, however I’m all about the medals – I love ’em!!!  

Now 99 times out of a 100 I don’t eat before a race, probably a cardinal sin, but I don’t want to get any form of indigestion, that would be my worst running nightmare! With the mile negotiated, my time was 6.56 minutes if you’re bothered about those kinds of things, my quickest ever. It’s not often I’m openly happy about the times I run, I’m never going to be an Olympic athlete or even a county runner, but for me it’s alright!

Hopping on the tube with medal in tow I just wanted to eat, it was 12pm so perfect for a feed! Walking passed Dishoom in Covent Garden, there was the predictable queue which we weren’t interested in so carried on until I picked out Kopapa ahead of me; a brunch spot that kept popping up in my research. Located in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden, I knew it’d be busy as I’d failed to book a table the day before, but as we were outside there’d be no harm in asking. Yes, as expected there were no free tables, but we were offered the bar instead – I love eating at the bar, it’s where you can chat to the staff and watch them trying to look cool making coffee and cocktails.

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I’d read much about their Turkish egg dish, but what caught my eye was the chorizo hash, while it wasn’t much of a surprise the other half eyed up the burger, it was either that or a fry-up. The place had a busy atmosphere, with plenty of chat and the staff seemed to be keeping themselves very busy. Quickly a couple of Bloody Mary’s were ordered from the friendly bar man, probably a little hastily on my part as if I’d have looked a little more closely I would’ve ordered something a little less fiery, but hey ho.

I’m a huge brunch fan, it ticks a tonne of boxes as far as I’m concerned, where you can have a leisurely drink whilst eating a lot of food fairly early on in the day is a brilliant thing! Our food arrived in good time and I found my chorizo hash with fried eggs and rocket filling and packed a punch with flavour, the sriracha really making the extra difference with a smack of heat!! Runny egg yolks too, what more could I ask for when it comes to a comforting brunch that would set me up for the rest of the day! It’s even something I would try and replicate at home. The burger was polished off in no time at all, not because it was small or anything, but because it tasted great – a perfectly cooked patty left pink and juicy, crisp salty bacon, salad that hadn’t been left to wilt, fantastic fries and a decent coleslaw which had a little sharpness. I think it’s fair to say we were both  very happy!

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Kopapa’s definitely a brunch spot to remember for future visits!

Kopapa

32-34 Monmouth Street

Seven Dials

Covent Garden

London

WC2H 9HA

http://www.kopapa.co.uk
Click to add a blog post for Kopapa on Zomato

Bubble Tea mini invasion!? 

What do you make of Bubble Tea – do you like it? It seems to have become a thing in Leeds now, or it’s at least trying to be. I suppose it was only a matter of time before it came this way, as they’ve been in London for years. This unusual Taiwanese concoction of tea shaken with milk or fruit producing a drink with ‘bubbles’, I always thought the bubbles were because of those tapioca balls they add, but I was very wrong – thanks internet for putting me in my place!!! Having only tried the milk teas a couple of times, I’m very much sat on the fence as to whether I like it or not. I think it’s the idea of those tapioca balls that put me off a little, they just remind me of ball bearings or those glass marbles I used to play Chinese checkers with as a child, even swallowing one or two when playing the foolish and rather dangerous game of ‘how many marbles can you fit in your mouth?!’

Just recently London based Bubbleology opened in Trinity Leeds, adding to its many national outlets and seemingly getting off to a good start with queues of people lining up to get there hands on this odd tea drink – mini revolution maybe? After having a quick scan at their menu, they say you can tailor your drink to your liking and can go all out on tapioca or not at all,  have it sugar free, are suitable for vegetarians and those with lactose intolerance – who knew?

After having walked passed a number of times recently, I may have to give them another try and play it safe with something fruit based.

 

Iocha Bubble Tea in Central Arcade are supposed to open today, hopefully it’ll draw more of a crowd to the arcade, as the only thing going for it is Bird & Beast food and drink wise, unless you have a Greggs craving! 

Photo from Iocha Bubble Tea instagram

There’s also Bubble Tea Leeds that’s soon to open in the Merrion Centre’s Sing Kee Oriental supermarket, and supposedly there’s a bubble tea spot near the university – Cafe Jojo and one in the Merrion Centre called Bubble Bubble. Is this right, do these places exist still?

What your opinion on the drink – love it/hate it? 

For those of you who’ve tried it, can you recommend one that I should try, something to ease me in gently? 

World Meat Free Day!!!

It’s World Meat Free Day – who knew, not me until half an hour ago!! I’m a little late posting this now, certainly for breakfast or lunch, however there’s plenty of time to think of dinner, and anyway what about tomorrow and every day after, it’s a handy list to use whenever I reckon. 

Leeds has lots of fantastic spots whether they are full on vegetarian, vegan or places that have a knack of creating menus which great meat free dishes. 

Here are some of Leeds’ best –

The Greedy Pig – their veggie breakfast has almost reached folklore status around Leeds, in particular their cornbread. Don’t get me wrong this duo are meat lovers, but when it comes to veg options they treat it just as seriously! Look out for their supper club The Swine That Dines and their next Roots to Shoots night.

The Grub & Grog Shop – with the use of local, organic local ingredients wherever possible, their menu is more weighted towards meat-free dishes. Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and don’t expect anything less than really tasty food that’s reasonably priced and pretty easy on the eyes too.

Humpit – this Corn Exchange spot is famed for its falafel in pita and the humpit classic, a bargain too. Perfect for brunch or lunch!

Prashad – this Drighlington based Gujarati restaurant is popular for good reason, as a little trip out will reward you with top notch vegetarian Indian food! There’s a lot to love here, I love the dahi puri, chaat and massala dosa.

Bundobust – the love-child of Bradford pub the Sparrow and above mentioned Prashad, this place needs no talking up! It’s a serious challenge settling on a few dishes here, but if i’m pushed my faves would be the egg bhurji, massala dosa, bundo chaat, veg rice dry fry and okra fries….told you I couldn’t stick to a few!  Oh, don’t forget the mango lassi to go with it!

Tharavadu – this award-winning Keralan restaurant has friendly knowledgeable staff and serves beautifully spiced dishes.

Sandinista – not normally talked about for its food, but their kitchen serves up a decent selection of meat free tapas style dishes, ideal for sharing and reasonably priced.

The Reliance – I’ve never been disappointed with The Reliance, you’ll get dishes created with ingredients treated simply and cooked well. Their meat-free dishes are made with just as much care and attention as everything else here.

Friends of Ham – yes I now, who’d have thought it?! Obviously their wide choice of meat isn’t an option, but they do offer a nice selection of meat-free salads and some vegetarian cheeses too.

Ephesus – this Turkish restaurant based in Rodley may have a menu full of meat based dishes, however I could graze on the hot and cold mezze alone, that along with their flatbread and I’d leave more than happy. In addition, there are another handful of veggie options such as their vegetarian pide and roasted veg with rice.

Zucco – one of Leeds’ best at the moment – food here is pretty awesome across the board. Their near legendary deep fried zucchini is a must.

Mill Kitchen – this lovely cafe found in Farsley uses local sustainable ingredients as much as possible to produce a good selection of freshly made veg and vegan options. The menu’s full of choices be it breakfast or lunch, also open Friday and Saturday evenings.

Cielo Blanco – this Mexican spot in Trinity Leeds has a much expanded menu compared to its Neon Cactus sibling, with options across the board; from their tacos, quesadillas to their burritos and sides.

Bilbao Bar – whether you go for the tapas or their pintxos (Saturday), there’s always enough to get your teeth into. Their tortilla alone is worth a visit, in my opinion it’s the best in the city.

Where would recommend for great meat-free food?

Rita’s, London

You know when food lingers long in the memory, well this was me over a certain fried chicken roll from London based Rita’s, yeah the one I’d devoured at Leeds feast. Knowing I was to spend Saturday doing fun stuff in London, I just wanted to visit Rita’s properly and have another one!! For those of you who may not know of Rita’s, it’s a restaurant serving American inspired food in London Fields, with the closest tube Bethnal Green it was a bit of a trek for the other half, who was venturing in especially, it ended up taken nearly two hours to get there. However, I was hoping it would be more than worth his efforts, only time would tell.

We like dinner early, so got there for 6pm. From the outside it reminded me a bit of a takeaway and hardly stood out from the premises either side. Any preconceived doubts there may’ve been from our first impressions of the outside soon started to disappear when we walked inside as you get a different vibe altogether, its interior is light with white walls, pink comfy seating and light wooden floors.             

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The menu is short and concise with a handful of starters, and similar with mains, sides and the odd special added for good measure. Knowing we were coming for dinner, I’d looked on the menu and had a feeling that the other half would go for steak, while I was ALWAYS going to reacquaint myself with the chicken roll once more!

They have a thing about cocktails at Rita’s, from a list of six or so ordered one of their frozen hibiscus margheritas, that we missed out on at Leeds feast. I on the other hand spotted a watermelon aperol spritz on the menu, it’d been a lovely warm sunny day and it’s such a great drink I thought ‘why not?!’ They both were really hit the spot – the margherita was strong and punchy, whilst the aperol spritz was refreshing and its slight bitterness was tamed by the watermelon. Definitely one to remember for the warm summer months, if we get any that is or even if we don’t!!

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Tucking into his steak there was pretty much silence across the table, apart from the sound of cutlery doing its job. I tried a small bit – it was a beautiful piece of meat, had great flavour and with the very green chimichurri lots of herbs and garlic, it was a great pairing. The crispy potatoes were pretty damn good too, we both could’ve gone through shed loads of them. 

Bavette, chimichurri & finishing butter
Bavette, chimichurri & finishing butter
Crispy fried crushed potatoes
Crispy fried crushed potatoes

My chicken roll probably wasn’t as massive as the one I’d gushed over at Leeds feast, which was huge!! However, it tasted just as good – the crust golden and crisp, the meat itself so juicy and with those potatoes, a few slices of pickles – sharp but not enough to make me wince. A definite WINNER!!!! 

Chicken roll deluxe
Chicken roll deluxe

Skipping the starters, for a change I opted for a dessert especially when I read the word beignet – I was immediately sold! After a quick recommendation from our server reaffirming my choice, I was brought over two glorious mounds of pimped up sophisticated doughnut – crisp and deliciously sweet without giving me tooth ache on the outside, whilst the inside was warm, light and soft. Partnered with a generous amount of dulce de leche it could’ve been too much sweet for me, but instead was far more measured and the sprinkling of icing sugar gave it a little sweet pick-me-up.

Dulce de leche beignets
Dulce de leche beignet

It may’ve taken almost an age to get there, but even the other half said it was worth it, even for the steak alone!! Loved it – it looks nothing from the street, but is completely different once inside – light, bright, friendly staff, top-notch food and cocktails!! 

Rita’s Bar and Dining 

175 Mare Street

London

E8 3RH

http://ritasbaranddining.com
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