The Botanist @Trinity Leeds

Catching up with girl friends in Leeds always involves a good lunch and lots of laughs. I knew that the restaurants inside Trinity Leeds would be very busy by the time we had decided to go somewhere, so after passing the Botanist on my walk into the centre I though it might the ideal place to go as it may not get as busy so early.  It’s located on Boar Lane in between the Trinity Church and a well-known burger chain.

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We were greeted outside where there is an outdoor dining area (which will be great for the warmer weather) and walked passed the kitchen where you could see rotisserie chicken amongst a whole host of other things.

The inside of the restaurant has a very rustic, shabby chic style to it, with areas partly reminiscent of a garden shed and luckily for us was still fairly quiet when we sat down, with just a handful of tables occupied.

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The menu is split into a selection of starters, the Botanist deli board (where you can choose from meat, cheese, and deli favourites ,e .g. houmous and chargrilled vegetables), home comforts, dishes off the barbeque, rotisserie and salads.

It took a while for us to order, just due to the fact that we were too busy catching up, but the waitress was extremely patient with us and duly waited until we were ready.

We decided to order a Botanist deli board to share as a starter with grilled marinated aubergine and courgette, cous cous and roasted vegetable salad, Shorrock’s 2 year-aged Lancashire cheese and some salami milano. For our main courses the 80’s classic chicken kiev with basmati rice (not the usual accompaniment I’m guessing), a beef burger with cheese and two of their Hanging Kebabs – one with halloumi and vegetables and the other with chicken, both served with chips.

The deli board was very yummy, the Lancashire cheese lovely and creamy, the cous cous with vegetables tasty, the salami had little bit of spice and finally the grilled marinated aubergine and courgette were lovely and soft. All in all the whole thing tasted great and even though we shared a deli board for one person between four of us, everyone was more than happy with the portion size.

The Botanist deli board - salami milano, cous cous with vegetable salad, chargrilled aubergine and courgette and Shorrock's 2 year old Lancashire cheese.
The Botanist deli board – salami milano, cous cous with roast vegetable salad, grilled marinated aubergine and courgette and Shorrock’s 2 year-aged Lancashire cheese.

Meanwhile the restaurant had started to become very busy by then and it took a little while for the main courses to arrive. The Hanging Kebabs looked fab and there was a bit of entertainment when the waiter poured over a chilli, ginger and garlic butter sauce from the top of kebab so it ran down the kebab, dripping into the chips in a bowl underneath.

Halloumi cheese and vegetables Hanging Kebab with chips.
Halloumi cheese and vegetables Hanging Kebab with chips.

The kebabs were excellent, my halloumi cheese had lovely charred marks on it and was lovely and stretchy, cooked to perfection. The mushrooms and vegetables were a perfect combination with the halloumi cheese and the chips were great too! I don’t know about you but I find that not many restaurants cook great chips, there must be a dark art to cooking a fantastic chip!! The chilli, ginger and garlic oil was a fantastic addition, bringing the whole dish together and making it very moreish! I was told that my friend’s chicken kebab was also fantastic too, the chicken cooked really well and we both seemed to polish them off without a moments hesitation.

Chicken kiev with basmati rice.
Chicken kiev with basmati rice.

The chicken kiev got no complaints either, it had a lovely breadcrumbed crust, soft and fluffy basmati rice and a cute little pot of garlic butter sauce to pour over at your leisure. A great touch!

Beef burger with salsa, lettuce, gherkin and tomato with chips.

The beef burger looked fantastic, again with really well cooked chips. My friend had asked for her burger to be cooked medium but it arrived quite pink, so after calling someone over it was dealt with straight away and sorted out without any fuss whatsoever, bringing back a freshly cooked burger. The staff who sorted it out were both excellent and we couldn’t fault them.

They have a large drinks menu, with the good range of wines, fantastic sounding cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and also a great range of beers, ales and ciders.

Apart from ordering wine and beer, we’d eyed up some of the non-alcoholic cocktails – their Forest Fruit Fling and Grape and Raspberry and Elderflower Cooler, both were lovely especially the Forest Fruit fling which I could have drunk over and over. Very delicious and refreshing.

Grape, Raspberry and Elderflower cordial - raspberry puree, elderflower cordial, grapes , sugar syrup, orange and cranberry juice.
Grape, Raspberry and Elderflower cordial – raspberry puree, elderflower cordial, grapes, sugar syrup, orange and cranberry juice.
Forest Fruit Fling - blackberry, raspberry and blueberry purees, apple juice, cranberry juice and lemon juice.
Forest Fruit Fling – blackberry, raspberry and blueberry purees, apple juice, cranberry juice and lemon juice.

In terms of cost starters are £4.50-£7.95, the deli board £9.25, main courses are £7.75-£17.75.

Our bill came to just under £100 for 4 people without a tip, so not bad considering we had quite a few drinks too. We all agreed they’d done a fab job and we’d definitely come back. Great for lunch, dinner and also great for drinks too!!

Overall the service was friendly, the place had a good atmosphere, the waiting staff extremely efficient and helpful and the food and drinks both tasted great. On the negative side we were there for lunch so the menu was lunch friendly I think, but I’m not sure if I’d feel the same way if I’d gone in the evening.

The Botanist
67 Boar Lane
Trinity Leeds
Leeds
0113 205 3240
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Cielo Blanco @ Trinity Leeds

Brand new Mexican restaurant Cielo Blanco opened in Trinity Leeds last week, The venue is linked to well known Call Lane favourite Neon Cactus. Neon Cactus is well known for it’s tequila based cocktails as well as its great Mexican food (winners of this years Oliver Awards Best food award), so I was looking forward to a similar standard if not better food at Cielo Blanco.

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So for the weekly catch-up with the best mate I was thinking, oooh lets try out the new Mexican place. I’d already had a lengthy gander at the menu (as usual), and had my eye on so many of the dishes that I couldn’t wait to get my teeth literally stuck into their food. The menu consists of street food (small plates of tacos, tostados, quesdillas, empanadas) and a selection of what they call market dishes. There’s a range of sharing boards, these come with fresh salsa, wheat, hand pressed tortillas, guacamole, chipotle and sour cream.  Then there’s burritos, enchiladas and salads. For groups of 4+ they have a feast menu with a large range of dishes, more than enough to satisfy.

We needed a table with room for a pushchair, so the waitress was very efficient and brought over a highchair straight away and we sat down with enough room for the three of us to sit. The service was really good from the time we entered the restaurant. It took us a few minutes to choose from the menu because everything sounded so great, and after asking the waitress for advice about how much we should order we eventually decided. For starters – a tostados with spicy king prawn, chipotle and lime sour cream, cielo ceviche of queen scallops with east coast mackerel and a sharing board with outdoor reared belly pork with cumin crackling, Oaxacan stew and sweet potato and epazote (a Mexican herb) to follow. The waitress assured us that this would be a large meal for 2 of us. They also had a children’s menu which we ordered some food for the little one too.  For drinks, they have a great cocktail menu, Mexican beers and a small, but succinct list of wines, including some good Argentinian, Chilean and Mexican wines.

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To start our meal off we were brought some lovely, warm tortilla chips and a trio of dips – guacamole, a chopped salsa with sweetcorn, chilli and a salsa piquant with peppers. The tortilla chips were fantastic, really tasty and a fab crunch to them, not over salty and even though they are fried were not at all greasy. Extremely moreish!!!

Tortilla chips with accompaniments.
Tortilla chips with accompaniments.

Our starters arrived a few minutes later, both tasted great, the little tostados were warm and the prawns with the chipotle, lime and sour cream really went well together, a little garnish of pepper, lettuce and tomato giving it a bit of crunch and freshness. The ceviche of scallops was lovely, a generous portion of queen scallops lovely and soft, with some gem lettuce to act as little holders to carry the scallop and equally tasty mackerel.

Tostados with spicy king prawn, chipotle and lime sour cream.
Tostados with spicy king prawn, chipotle and lime sour cream.

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Ceviche of queen scallops with East Coast mackerel.
Ceviche of queen scallops with East Coast mackerel.

The sharing board came while we were eating our starters and the board was so large it was hard to fit everything on the table.

Sharing platter - outdoor reared belly pork with authentic Oaxacan stew and sweet potato and ezapote, accompanied by guacamole, salsa, charred onion and warm wheat and hand pressed tortilla.
Sharing platter – outdoor reared belly pork with authentic Oaxacan stew and sweet potato and ezapote, accompanied by guacamole, salsa, charred onion and warm wheat and hand pressed tortilla.

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We soon realised the waitress was right when saying it would be more than enough to feed the two of us, not that we were complaining though!! The belly pork was great, it had a lovely crackling with meat which was very juicy, it made a great tortilla with the sweet potato and charred peppers and onions. There was also rice and a stew which was so tender! More accompaniments of guacamole, sour cream, salsa really made it a very filling meal indeed!

All washed down with some Argentinian Viognier for me and a Mexican beer called Dos Equis for my friend, it all went down very easily. The service was great throughout, the waitresses were attentive and on hand to clear away and tidy up after us.
The next time I come I’ll definitely want to try some of their cocktails, they looked especially good.

In matters other than the food, the atmosphere is great and already has a good buzz about it. In terms of cost, I think it’s very reasonable – street food dishes range from £3.95-£7,95, you can order 6 street food dishes for 2 people @ £10.95 each. The sharing boards are £10.95 each and the burritos and enchiladas are £5.50-£7.45. For groups of 4+ the feast is £14.50 per person. Our meal in total was £60.35 for 2 people and a little one (excluding a tip).

Great food, drinks, atmosphere and service = a return visit soon!

Cielo Blanco
415 Trinity Leeds
Albion Street
Leeds
0113 246 9707

Angelica @ Trinity Leeds

I’d been looking forward to Trinity Leeds opening for ages and had been keeping tabs on which restaurants were going to open. I’d read a while ago that D&D who own The Bluebird in London and a host of others venues were going to open their first two restaurants outside of London here. We came on the first evening of their ‘soft launch’ and were greeted by a man at the door who led us to a lift up to the 6th floor, we then entered a darkened corridor where we were greeted and waited to be seated at our table. The inside of the restaurant has been fitted to a very high standard by Conran and Partners and has fabulous view across the city. We were greeted very hospitably and taken to our table, ordering a bottle of Soave and some water, both of which were brought to our table within a couple of minutes.

The menu comprises plates (starters), a raw bar which consists of sushi and sashimi, main courses and a salad section. We ordered scallops with chorizo and cauliflower and pork belly with sage and apple sauce. For our main courses we ordered a cockle, clam and mussel white risotto and a ‘Ginger pig’ chopped steak hamburger. The starters arrived quickly and were both very tasty, in particular the pork belly was excellent, the apple chutney being a classic accompaniment worked fantastically well and the pork was soft and tasted great. Even though there was no crackling the top was crisp, but it would’ve been nice to have the salty crackling to crunch through though.

Crisp pork belly with sage and bramley apple.
Crisp pork belly with sage and bramley apple.

My scallops arrived not as I’d expected. I was expecting a cauliflower puree with slices of pan fried chorizo and whole scallops, what I got was chunks of scallops with chopped chorizo and cauliflower florets. It tasty great but looked a little less to be desired. It was a little difficult to eat as they had served it in a shell which kept rolling around.

Scallops with chorizo and cauliflower.
Scallops with chorizo and cauliflower.

Our main courses then arrived , also quite quickly. The burger looked great and came with a side of triple cooked chips (as stated on the menu) and a gherkin. The burger came with a garnish of lettuce, cheese and some sort of pickled onion and had been cooked  pink as requested. Now the taste was excellent, the burger had a strong, robust smoky flavour and the garnish worked well, in particular the cheese. The triple cooked chips were fine and the gherkin on the side a nice extra.

'Ginger pig' chopped steak hamburger.
‘Ginger pig’ chopped steak hamburger.

I’m a big fan of risotto so was looking forward to my main course, the rice was al dente and creamy, with a little bit of give which a good risotto should have. The shellfish was nice, but near the end there was a little bit of the grit, this was a shame as it had been a tasty plate of food.

Cockle, clam and mussel white risotto.
Cockle, clam and mussel white risotto.

We decided to order a dessert and chose the Burnt Cambridge cream (the English version of a Creme Brûlée) and the warm ‘seaside’ doughnuts with vanilla cream and spiced apple (chosen from a range of accompaniments like blackberry compote, whisky custard and warm chocolate sauce).

Burnt Cambridge cream.
Burnt Cambridge cream.
Warm 'seaside' doughnuts with cream and spiced apple.
Warm ‘seaside’ doughnuts with cream and spiced apple.

The creme brûlée was good, with a lovely crisp sugar top but lovely and creamy underneath. While the doughnuts were a bit of fun, little ring doughnuts covered in a vanilla sugar, the vanilla cream and apple were good partners to the doughnuts. Both were polished off within minutes.

We’d eyed up the cocktails being ordered by other people and decided to order a couple ourselves. Unfortunately the good service we had received during the meal had now slowed down considerably and even though we’d asked the waiter for a drinks menu, we had to grab our own after waiting at least 5 minutes because he’d forgotten and was serving other customers. This was a pity because even with a couple of little hiccups we’d enjoyed our meal. It felt that because we’d stopped eating the waiting staff had forgotten we were still paying customers.  It took take at least 10 minutes to order them, after we managed to call someone over and then 10/15 minutes to receive them. Both tasted really good, but for £9 and £8 respectively they were small and after waiting a lengthy amount of time could have been drunk in a couple of minutes. For cocktails there are fantastic places in Leeds like The Maven, Distrikt and Mojo’s so I think I’ll probably stick to those in future.

Hendricks.
Hendricks – fresh kiwi and cucumber, Hendricks gin, kiwi schnapps, fresh organic apple juice, elderflower cordial and lime juice.
Sweet velvet.
Sweet velvet – Ketel One vodka, Goji liqueur, fresh pineapple and sweet basil, vanilla syrup, fresh lemon juice and pineapple juice.

I know I maybe harsh (because they’ve just opened) and obviously I don’t know what system they are running, but I was taught that waiting staff should always keep an eye on all the tables in their section until they have paid and left. We were served by a number of different people and there may have been a lack of consistency in service there. I’m sure it’ll improve and they’ll iron out these problems, as from what I saw last night it’s going to be a very popular venue.

In matters other than the food and drink, the starters range from £4-12.50, the sushi and sashimi £5-£28, depending on whether you want a small or full-size portion and the main courses £8.50-£15.

We had the benefit from 50% introductory food offer so our bill total was £72.80 for 2 people. I’m sure we’ll be back, it’ll be a great venue to come to in the warmer months, with it’s terrace and views across Leeds.

Angelica
Level 6 Trinity Leeds
70 Boar Lane
Leeds
LS1 6HW

El Topo

On my to have a nosey at the new Trinity Leeds shopping centre I walked passed street food favourite El Topo and thought a decent bit of street food would fill my empty stomach after a hard days work. I’d had no lunch as usual at work, apart from a couple of biscuits and a cup of tea.

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They are normally found on Commercial Street most days and specialise in San Francisco-style burritos and have become a firm favourite in Leeds and at UK festivals. Their serve their burritos with a variety of fillings, e.g. pulled pork, breakfast burrito, chorizo and chicken and vegetarian burritos. All come with a host of  accompaniments and condiments, such as hot sauce, spicy salsa, jalapeños, refried black turtle beans, sour cream, red rice (rice cooked with passata and spices) and cheese. All of this for £5. I’d asked for a pulled pork burrito, but unfortunately they had run out so my second choice was the slow cooked beef. The lady at the hut was really nice and friendly, we had a nice chat while she made my burrito and after a couple of minutes the burrito was wrapped up and ready to be unravelled. It was lovely, the tortilla lovely and warm because she’d put it under a hot press, the beef was so soft and tender but full of flavour, all the accompaniments working perfectly with the beef, with the final addition of hot sauce bringing it to life.

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It was well worth the £5 and I was very well satisfied  with the taste, service and value for money. I’ll be back for more definitely!!! I understand they also serve mexican staples like tamales, empanadas and quesadillas. If they are as tasty as the burrito I had today I can’t wait to try something else the next time I walk passed!

El Topo
Commercial Street
Leeds City Centre

Lunch to bring me back to life…oh yes please!

It’s been over a week since my last post and I basically haven’t had time to eat or sleep since Wednesday. For those of you who don’t know, I may be a regular eater outer in my free time, but I am a high school teacher during the week. Wednesday we got the dreaded call from OFSTED and since then I have literally worked non-stop, surviving on 4/5 hours sleep in 2 days.

During the last few days I have missed my regular yummy food mid-week session and have been hankering (as usual) for somewhere good to go. I’m a person who loves to research stuff, e.g. holidays – I make a detailed itinerary from weeks of preparation so I can see absolutely everything and a similar thing happens with going out for food. I am always looking at new restaurants, reviews etc. I can’t even remember what day it was last week because I’m still in a state of being a zombie (having lost hours of my life I will never get back from working nearly non-stop for 2 days. Well I’m going off the point now, I was once again looking at restaurants and I saw one called Dish, and I thought I’d recognised some of the interior from a place I had loved and really missed when it closed down last year. This place was called Aglassto which I had frequented many times and had longed for something else to open in it’s place. Well the day I had seen it, just by complete coincidence was the day before it was awarded Best Newcomer at the Oliver Awards (a yearly ceremony which awards the best in the regions culinary talent). This definitely made up my mind that I had to try this place out.

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Now the proprietor and head chef  Eddy Nuttall comes from good stock, having worked at Heathcotes and was part of the team at Jamie’s Italian so I was certainly hoping for good things. They say they offer modern British food using local produce and ingredients from sustainable methods. They are open for lunch and dinner and also have a pre-theatre menu and cocktail bar. We had arrived just before opening at 12pm as I wanted to get there before it got busy. I’d read it had been popular since it opened, and especially after winning best newcomer award, I assumed other people would be doing the same as me and wanted to see what the fuss was about. The man who served us was very friendly and helpful, my friend had a baby’s pushchair and they immediately offered her a high chair and put the pushchair out of the way. He also pointed out that they have a child and baby menu too. They also have a gluten free menu with a good range of starters and main courses. I think the chef has thought carefully about the menu and what could be done to cater for gluten free diners which is excellent. After a perusal over their menu we decided on starters of wild boar and venison salami, rocket salad and extra virgin olive oil, east coast crab bruschetta with scotch bonnet chilli, horseradish and preserved lemon and smoked haddock salad with smoked olive tapenade. Our main courses were a pot roasted chicken with sweet potato and purple sprouting broccoli, turbot en papillote with fennel, pearl barley and a salad and finally a salt cured corned beef burger (gluten free ciabatta bun) served with beetroot relish, pickled chillies and thyme baked potato wedges.

In terms of drinks we ordered a bottle of chilean sauvignon blanc which was a decent price at £17.50. The wine was lovely, crisp and very quaffable. It didn’t take long and we were on the 2nd bottle.

The east coast crab bruschetta was nice, the crab was lovely and creamy with a good proportion of white and brown crab meat.  I couldn’t really taste any scotch bonnet chilli or horseradish though which would have made it come alive more. The bread that it sat on was quite difficult to cut and I was a little afraid that if I tried too hard it would spill off the plate. The preserved lemon was a good addition as it cut through the richness of the crab.

East coast crab bruschetta, with scotch bonnet chilli, horseradish and preserved lemon.
East coast crab bruschetta, with scotch bonnet chilli, horseradish and preserved lemon.

The wild boar and venison salami was lovely and had a real depth of meaty flavour, it came already seasoned with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. I was told it was so delicious they could have eaten it twice over.

Wild boar and venison salami with a rocket salad and extra virgin olive oil.
Wild boar and venison salami with a rocket salad and extra virgin olive oil.

The last starter of smoked haddock salad with a smoked tapenade was excellent, the fish perfectly cooked and seasoned. The tapenade in particular was a real winner, it had a punch of olive but in a mild way because it had been smoked.

Smoked haddock salad with smoked olive tapenade.
Smoked haddock salad with smoked olive tapenade.

The restaurant had mostly filled up by the time we had finished our starters, so I was definitely glad we had arrived when the restaurant had opened.

The main courses arrived and all looked great, my turbot en papillote was very yummy. The fish was perfectly cooked, the clams were nice and soft, fennel gave a slight aniseed flavour. The pearl barley was al dente and was a great addition to the dish , I hadn’t had barley with fish before so it was something new for me. The side salad was nice and fresh, but I would have quite happily eaten the dish without the salad and I’m not sure if it actually needed it.

Turbot en papillote with fennel, pearl barley and lemon juice.
Turbot en papillote with fennel, pearl barley and lemon juice.

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The burger was tasty, the actual salt cured corned beef burger was served in strips and was very nice. It came with a whole green chilli and gherkin. The bread was gluten free, as requested, it was very moist (surprising because all the gluten free bread products have been very dry unless they had lots of fruit in them). We think it was kept moist by the fact it was fresh and heavily buttered.

Salt cured corn beef burger in a gluten free ciabatta bun, beetroot relish, pickled chillies and thyme baked potato wedges.
Salt cured corn beef burger in a gluten free ciabatta bun, beetroot relish, pickled chillies and thyme baked potato wedges.

The pot roasted chicken breast with sweet potato mash and purple sprouting broccoli was nice but a little on the bland side. After cutting into the thickest part of the chicken my friend had noticed that a blood vessel was still very red and not cooked enough for her liking so she notified the waiter and the chicken was sent back. After approximately five minutes it came back and thankfully was still moist. The vegetables were cooked well and accurately. The waiter was very efficient and had it sorted without any fuss whatsoever.

Pot roasted chicken breast with sweet potato and
Pot roasted chicken breast with sweet potato and purple sprouting broccoli

Once again we weren’t planning on having desserts, but they looked so yummy on the menu. I ordered the apple crumble with tonka bean custard, one fellow diner ordered the lemon tart with goji berry compote and the other ordered one of their digestif cocktails called the Monkey mule (Monkey shoulder triple distilled whiskey, lime, syrup, ginger beer and angostura bitters).

Apple crumble with tonka bean custard.
Apple crumble with tonka bean custard.
Lemon tart with goji berry compote.
Lemon tart with goji berry compote.

The apple crumble was excellent, the apples were soft with a bit of sharpness and the tonka bean custard was creamy, giving a very mild vanilla flavour to the custard. The lemon tart was delicious, it had a thin golden sugar top giving a crunch, a soft zingy lemon filling and thin base. The goji berry compote was fantastic and had a sort of sweet but sour flavour to it. The meal in total was £103 for 3 people, considering we had 2 bottles of wine, 3 starters and main courses, 2 desserts and a cocktail I think that’s not bad really. The quality of the food was good but there’s definitely room for improvement, the service was great and it’s definitely a welcome addition to the restaurant scene in Leeds. I’m hoping this place will last longer than it’s predecessor because I’d like to come back and taste some of the other dishes on their menu. 

18 Great George Street
Leeds
LS1 3DW
0113 8276875