Town Hall Tavern

Town Hall Tavern in Leeds city centre was the venue for lunch on a sunny Saturday with two worse for wear fellow diners. I thought it would be an ideal place as it usually serves great food, drinks with good service, the whole package really at a reasonable price.IMG_2730

They have a new spring menu divided into starters, small pick and mix dishes, signature dishes, pub classics, steaks and chops, vegetarian and sandwiches. My fellow diners wanted to stick to what would not upset their delicate bodies so stuck to the classics and chose homemade burger and dripping cooking chips and omelette with smoked haddock and chips, while I opted for a selection of starters and pick and mix dishes – crab cake, langoustine, pigs cheek scotch egg and chips.

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For drinks a glass of dry white wine, Bloody Mary and a diet coke. Service was as I come to expect here, friendly and chatty when needed (but still efficient), nice and relaxed exactly what the doctor ordered!!

Bloody Mary, white wine and coke
Bloody Mary, white wine and coke

Our food arrived and looked great, brought over with a smile too which is always nice.

Homemade burger with cheese, crispy bacon, crispy onion rings and dripping cooked chips.
Homemade burger with cheese, crispy bacon, crispy onion rings and dripping cooked chips.
Pig's cheek scotch egg with pickled onions and HP brown sauce.
Pig’s cheek scotch egg with pickled onions and HP brown sauce.
Crispy langoustine tails and crab cake with tomato and shallot dressing.
Crispy langoustine tails and crab cake with tomato and shallot dressing.
Free-range omelette with natural smoked haddock.
Free-range omelette with natural smoked haddock.

All tasted great, the omelette lovely and soft with rich free-range eggs and smoked haddock which was delicate and not too overpowering. The burger delivered in terms of flavour, with crispy bacon and lovely melted cheese, the beef burger moist and juicy. The all important bun was soft and just the right size for the burger, often burger buns overhang and are a bit of a waste. I had two boards of little delights, lots of fried goodies but all with their own distinct flavours. The scotch egg had a soft yolk with lovely slightly salty meat from the pig’s cheek, the breadcrumbs lovely and crisp. The langoustine were very moreish and I could have easily wolfed down a bowl full of the little gems. My crab cake had fantastic flavour from the crab meat and the tomato and shallot dressing helped to cut through the richness of the crab.

I’d seen on their Facebook page earlier that day a photo of their yummy desserts, so after a recommendation from our waitress I chose a trio of their ice-creams.

A trio of ice creams -vanilla, toffee apple, orange and cardamon.
A trio of ice creams -vanilla, toffee apple, orange and cardamon.

They were really creamy, all were excellent but my favourite was definitely the orange and cardamom. Underneath each scoop was a bed of what seemed like crushed sugary biscuit which gave a nice bit of crunch and an extra sugary hit.

The bill for food was £34.90 and including drinks the total bill came to £46.15 for 3 people, tip not included. On this occasion I was more than happy to include a tip as the service and food was fantastic. Having eaten here on many occasions for different reasons, whether it be a leisurely lunch, a speedy pre-theatre dinner or even for a Christmas meal with a large group of friends, I think it would be safe to say that I’m still a huge fan of this place.

Town Hall Tavern
17 Westgate
Leeds
LS1 2RA
0113 244 0765
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Mount Fuji Hiro in Leeds

First week of school done after Easter and I was desperate for some yummy food. Being a huge fan of all things Japanese….karaoke, food, taking photos the list goes on, a few years ago I was introduced to a small Japanese restaurant called Fuji Hiro. Fuji Hiro is a bit of an institution in Leeds city centre. It’s a small independent Japanese restaurant, unpretentious and almost cafe-like that essentially serves noodle and rice dishes, but with a whole lot more to offer as well.

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Having only lived in Leeds as a working woman and not studied like some of my friends at one of the local universities, I had no idea of it until I was introduced to it by a friend. So I was completely sucked in by the food immediately and have been a regular for a number of years.IMG_2713

The menu consists of side dishes, a good range of gyoza, edamame (steamed soya bean with cracked sea salt), chicken  yakitori, tofu and tempura tiger prawns. As you’ve read they’re not called starters, in japanese noodle restaurants often the first 2 courses are cooked at the same time so they often come out at the same time. You can request for them to come out as a starter and main course though.

For the main dishes there are pan fried noodles e.g. soba (buckwheat), udon (thick) and men (thin) noodles. A wide range of ramen dishes, e.g. chilli chicken, chilli beef and seafood ramen and finally the rice dishes e.g. cha han, yasai cha han and the very popular chicken katsu curry. There are lots of vegetarian options too.

The lady who runs the restaurant is always very welcoming and asked if I wanted to order straight away or if I needed a couple of minutes to peruse the menu. I normally order my usual and being a creature of habit also did on this occasion. I went for ebi gyoza, ebi katsu (I know 2 starters but they are too good) and a cha han served with a glass of dry white wine and an orange juice, a strange habit I know and I’ve no idea why I always have both drinks.  Now being a wine drinker Fuji Hiro isn’t a restaurant known for the quality of it’s wines, the one and only negative comment I could say about the place. It does serve green tea and the usual Japanese beers Asahi Superdry, Sapporo and Kirin and Sake, for lovers of the strong stuff!

My ebi gyoza were yummy, the prawns were very juicy and the carrot and Chinese chives give an extra dimension making them really delicious. Great gyoza should be gently pan fried on the bottom but steamed at the same time cooking the filling to perfection. I’ve never been disappointed by Fuji Hiro’s gyoza and always order them. The ebi katsu are to die for, the prawns are sweet and juicy with lots of katsu crumb so they have a fantastic crust. Always served with a lime wedge and chilli sauce which works fantastically with prawns. It never surprises me how quickly I manage to devour both.

Ebi katsu and chilli sauce.
Ebi katsu and chilli sauce.
Ebi gyoza with a soy and chilli dipping sauce.
Ebi gyoza with a soy and chilli dipping sauce.

The cha han can only be described as a mountain of lovely soft rice, all cooked to perfection so all the grains are separate, lots of shredded chicken and julienne carrot, sliced mushroom, sweet prawns, lettuce and the green part of a leek to give a mild onion flavour to the dish. It may sound like just a dish of fried rice, but it’s so much more than that, incredibly moreish and the portion sizes are big! Customary with rice dishes are the japanese pickles on the side which help to cut through the dish and also a bowl of steaming miso soup to help wash it down.

Cha han with miso soup and pickles.
Cha han with miso soup and pickles.
Cha han
Cha han

If you can’t sit down for a meal they also offer the whole menu for takeaway, which I have used many times, well worth it when you need a Fuji Hiro fix and they even give you napkins and chopsticks!

Side dishes are £2.95 – £6.60, noodles are £7.95 – £11.95, ramen are £7.95 – £12 and rice dishes are £7.50 – £8.95. They offer a set meal for £14.95 (vegetarian) or £15.95 (non-vegetarian), this includes a side dish, main dish and a bottle of beer or glass of wine. The cost of my meal for one was £24.70 (a set meal, ebi katsu and juice), in my mind great value for money considering the quality and the amount of food.

Overall the food is always consistently yummy and the service is good. They have built up a loyal following over the years and it’s fantastic that this independent restaurant has many regular customers. Leeds may have many other Japanese restaurants, e.g. Wagamama, Yo sushi, Little Tokyo and Wasabi Teppanyaki, but if you want great food and value for money I would ALWAYS choose Fuji Hiro over any of these.

Fuji Hiro
45 Wade Lane
Merrion Centre
Leeds
LS2 8NJ
0113 243 9184

Achtung, achtung!!

Our first day in Berlin needed to end with a typical German dinner to finish a great day. After a busy day being a tourist we chose to keep it simple and go to the hotel’s restaurant. We stayed in the Circus Hotel near Rosenthaler Platz and its restaurant offers German fayre with a twist. We were given a table by the window and a high chair was swiftly brought over for a baby. The service was warm and friendly, and we soon settled into what was a very comfortable and warm environment.IMG_3437

I’d had nothing to eat all day apart from an in flight sandwich so after a quick look at the menu we soon decided on schnitzel being the food of choice. Schnitzel from Dannenberger Pork, in a organic wholemeal crust with a warm potato and bacon salad and Spreewald gherkin. The Fabisch special schnitzel, topped with fruity ragu and grilled with cheese, served with a bacon and potato salad and pickled gherkin. To drink we ordered a German beer and glass of the house white wine. They gave us a little appetiser to begin with which I devoured very quickly, slices of bread stick from cream cheese, apple and ginger sounded very strange to me at first but as soon as I tasted it, I thought it was fabulous and something that you could whip up so easily at home too. The apple and ginger cut through the rich cream cheese really well and certainly made me wanted to taste more of their food.

Bread with cream cheese, apple and ginger.
Bread with cream cheese, apple and ginger.

Our main courses arrived not long after and look massive!!! My schnitzel, the Dannenberger Pork was delicious, exactly what I wanted from a very long day of travelling.

Schnitzel from Dannenberger Pork - in a organic wholemeal crust with warm potato and bacon salad and Spreewald gherkins.
Schnitzel from Dannenberger Pork – in an organic wholemeal crust with warm potato and bacon salad and Spreewald gherkins.

The wholemeal crust was really interesting, very tasty and gave it a fantastic texture on the outside of the neat, certainly much better than your usual breadcrumb!! The pork was lovely and moist and the potato salad was tasty and I could’ve eaten a load of it to be honest!!

The Fabisch Schnitzel Special was even bigger than mine.

Fibisch schnitzel special - topped with fruity paprika ragout and grilled with cheese, served with a bacon and potato salad and pickled gherkins.
Fibisch schnitzel special – topped with fruity paprika ragout and grilled with cheese, served with a bacon and potato salad and pickled gherkins.

Once again the schnitzel was delicious, the meat perfectly cooked and moist, it had a layer of mild cheese grilled on the top and a layer of vegetables in between. This seemed to help cut through the cheese and stopped it being too full on and heavy.

Even the child’s meal of fish fingers was enjoyed by our young diner, I’m a huge fan of fish fingers and was dying to have one, but was trying to be good and not steal a baby’s food!!!

Fish fingers with potato salad and salad leaves.
Fish fingers with potato salad and salad leaves.

Even though we had eaten a decent portion of food we still had room for a yummy dessert so we both went for the Apple strudel.

Apple strudel with almonds, nuts and caramelised apple slices.
Apple strudel with almonds, nuts and caramelised apple slices.

It was served warm with a really good custard and slices of apple. The strudel was so good, deeply filled and extremely tasty, I tried to be ladylike and take small chunks but it didn’t really happen and I just plunged my spoon in and tried to eat it as fast as possible!!! Probably very undignified but it was so good I couldn’t have cared less. Instead of having coffee or a dessert wine we enjoyed some of their yummy cocktails, my raspberry mojito was strong and really hit the spot, and the amaretto sour was also very good with a fantastic hit of almond!

Raspberry mojito.
Raspberry mojito
Amaretto sour.
Amaretto sour.

Dinner for 2 adults and a baby was around €75 without a tip so pretty good I think, definitely a good meal to end the first day of a Berlin adventure.

Fabisch Restaurant
Circus Hotel
Rosenthalerstraße 1
Berlin
00 49 (0) 30 2000 39 3460

Dough Bistro – 1st guest post by Lucy Reynolds

From the outside of the restaurant and its unassuming location, you could be excused for overlooking Dough Bistro, nestled on Spen Lane in the north of Leeds. Armed with a Groupon voucher for the tasting menu (I love a bargain) and with my equally food obsessed mother, we walked into the small, rustic setting and were greeted by the very friendly staff. We had a 6pm booking so it was quite quiet but we sat behind an elderly couple who already had started on the taster menu and whose noises of appreciation made us quietly confident of the quality of the food.
The waitress gave us a menu which outlined the seven courses and gave details for the wine which accompanied it (we only chose the food option minus the wine flight mainly because we are lightweights – seven glasses of wine would probably have ended up with us in Leeds Police station). I’m not sure whether I’m a fan of knowing what’s coming, mainly because it takes away the element of surprise, but my mum enjoyed it. The first course was apple wood smoked salmon filled with lobster mousse with black caviar and chives. The reason I have no photograph of it is due to the minuscule portion and my immense greed – I inhaled it before I could think of photographing it. More of an amuse bouche, it was delicious and the black caviar was fantastic on top, popping saltily in the mouth.
The next course (and in my opinion, the best of the night) was the Yorkshire buffalo with mushroom and Rigwelter ale sauce and Leeds chorizo potato salad and beetroot salsa.

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Yorkshire buffalo with mushroom and Rigwelter ale sauce, Leeds chorizo potato salad and beetroot salsa.

A beautiful plate was put in front of us and the taste was even better. The buffalo was rare and tender and the chorizo salad was mildly spiced but incredibly creamy. The knockout element was the ale and mushroom sauce though. The depth of flavour was incredible and it perfectly complimented the buffalo – I could have eaten that dish again and again.

Next up was another seafood dish – cold water prawns with a chilli and lime mayonnaise dressing with coriander oil, wild rocket and pineapple salsa.

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Cold water prawns with a chilli and lime mayonnaise dressing with coriander oil, wild rocket and pineapple salsa.

Having been a life long hater of mayonnaise, both myself and my mum were not really looking forward to this course, but to our surprise it was delicious. The pineapple salsa was sharp and brought out the sweetness in the prawns, whilst the peppery rocket cut through the creamy sauce. Altogether a good dish, but I would have liked a warm dish as both the previous dishes were cold.

The next dish was a palate cleansing sorbet of blackcurrant and Tanqueray gin.

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Blackcurrant and Tanqueray gin sorbet.

Simply presented, it certainly cleansed the palate and packed a lot of fruit flavour but lacked any sense of gin unfortunately. However it didn’t detract from the taste and our palates were ready for the next course.

Placed in front of us was an impressive plate of belly of pork, crackling, celeriac purée, baby vegetables and a seared Whitby scallop on a slice of black pudding.

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Belly of pork with crackling, celeriac purée, baby vegetable and Whitby scallop on a slice of black pudding.

The scallop was huge and cooked to perfection – slightly opaque in the middle and sweet. The black pudding is an obvious partner with the scallop but also worked well with the richness of the pork, which was pull-apart tender and moreish. The crackling was tasty and crunchy although lacking seasoning, as was the celeriac purée which seemed to get lost on the plate. The baby vegetables were merely cubes of carrot and swede which ,whilst tasty for a brief period, added nothing to the overall impact of the dish. Overall, a good dish but lacked the taste of the buffalo dish.

Our first dessert was coffee posset, with Bailey’s syllabub with crushed ginger and oat crumble.

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Baileys syllabub with crushed ginger and oat crumble.

Served in a small shot glass, it was quite hard to get the spoon to the bottom but that just shows how scrumptious it was. The creamy oaty top was gorgeous enough but when the Bailey’s syllabub was delved into – whoa mama! I would have happily bathed in that syllabub…I know that sounds strange, but try it first, then tell me you wouldn’t do the same.

The last dessert was a dark chocolate and Amaretto set mousse, Amaretto sauce and Amaretto ice cream with a chocolate crisp.

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Dark chocolate and Amaretto set mousse, Amaretto sauce and Amaretto ice cream with chocolate crisp.

Whilst looking the part, the set mousse was solid and extremely hart to eat – after some deft manoeuvring with a spoon, a stray piece ricocheted and nearly took my eye out, much to the amusement of the older couple sat behind us, who had obviously experienced the same challenge as us. However, once the chocolatey brick was conquered, the taste was reminiscent of nougat and the Amaretto sauce was divine. Not the best dessert but tasty nonetheless. With it we requested the dessert wine which was a triumph – a Chaputier Muscat sur lie, 2008. Heady with floral notes, the sweetness was perfectly matched to the dessert – a lovely end to an overall enjoyable meal.
So, for the reduced cost of the Groupon voucher, this seven course menu was well worth the cost. I’d recommend anyone to try out this little bistro – local produce, delicious cooking and friendly service. I’ll definitely go back.

Dough Bistro
293 Spen Lane
Leeds
0113 278 7255

Reds True Barbecue

Reds True Barbecue opened at the top of Call Lane in Leeds city centre in September 2012 and has been busy ever since. I’d been 3 times before but had never written a review on it, so thought a visit with meat loving friends could also coincide with a little blog on the side.

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We’d already built up the reputation of the place to our eating companions and so there was a certain level of anticipation. They have a first come first serve policy on the weekends, so from previous experience had a feeling it would be very busy when we arrived. It was, the man on the door said the next free table would be available at 8:30pm, at the time it was 6pm so we put our name on the list and went for drinks while waiting for the call.

For those of you who haven’t eaten at Reds, the restaurant work with the philosophy of ‘Low ‘n slow BBQ’, cooking at low temperatures over many hours producing tender, melt in the mouth cuts of meat, e.g. beef brisket, pork ribs and shoulder. With an open plan kitchen you can see food into their Oklahoma smokers (which are on virtually all the time unless being cleaned) and the food being prepared. The team at Reds have done extensive homework on this style of cooking food, having travelled around parts of the United States, e.g. Memphis and South Carolina researching all matters BBQ, such as different meat rubs, sauces, cuts of meat and cooking equipment.

Their extensive menu consists of Little plates, e.g. rib tips, Ribs, e.g. baby back ribs, Big Plates, e.g. North Carolina Pork ‘n Slaw, Feasting Plates for larger groups, Steaks and burgers, e.g. Pit burger, and Salads and sandwiches, e.g. New York Reuben and sides, e.g. corn bread. I remember the first time I came it took ages to read through the menu and choose something.

We decided to share little plates of homestyle nachos, cracklings, jalapeños poppers, rib tips and house made beef jerky. After being informed that the rib tips and beef jerky had run out we chose the BBQ rib taster and jumbo BBQ wings instead. For the main course we decided on Pulled Meat Nachos, Texas Beef Brisket, Combo 4 – Texas Beef Brisket and Pulled Pork and Pulled Pork Sandwich.

For drinks they have a large menu of wines, cocktails, growlers, boilermakers, lagers, craft beers, ales, even milk shakes, floats and the usual soft drinks. We ordered a root beer, red wine, Long island Iced tea and Reds Iced Tea.

Four Roses Bourbon, Diplomatico Anejo Rum, Orange Liqueur, lemon and honey topped with Yorkshire tea.
Reds Iced Tea – Four Roses Bourbon, Diplomatico Anejo Rum, Orange Liqueur, lemon and honey topped with Yorkshire tea.

Our starters arrived a few minutes later. Everything looked fantastic and the smell alone just made you want to wolf the whole lot down really quickly, but knowing that my main course was large I had to air on the side of caution.

Homestyle nachos -hand cut corn tortillas, fresh red onion, tomatoes, jalapeños, homemade chilli can queso, guacamole, sour cream and unholy BBQ sauce.
Homestyle nachos -hand cut corn tortillas, fresh red onion, tomatoes, jalapeños, homemade chilli can queso, guacamole, sour cream and unholy BBQ sauce.
Cracklings - crispy housemade pork cracklings scattered with spice dust.
Cracklings – crispy housemade pork cracklings scattered with spice dust.
Smoked pork ribs.
Smoked pork ribs.
Jalapeño poppers - crispy coated spicy peppers filled with Jack and cream cheese.
Jalapeño poppers – crispy coated spicy peppers filled with Jack and cream cheese.
Jumbo BBQ wings - hickory smoked jumbo wings (served mild or hot) with a celery stick and blue cheese dip.
Jumbo BBQ wings – hickory smoked jumbo wings (served mild or hot) with a celery stick and blue cheese dip.

The nachos are great, the warm tortillas crisp are really tasty on their own, the accompaniments are a match made in heaven with great, thick guacamole, with enough chilli to give it a real kick but a good dollop of sour cream to have just enough of a cooling effect. It would have been nice if the cheese was melted on the top to give it a lovely stringy texture, but apart from that it couldn’t be faulted. The cracklings are always yummy and didn’t disappoint, lovely a crisp with the pork fat cooked to perfection. They should be bagged up and sold everywhere they are so good. The ribs were tender, not too smokey which was good for me and the meat came off the bone so easily. Jalapeño poppers were great, lovely and crispy, with melted cheese inside and a gentle kick of the Jalapeño made them a real winner in my eyes. Last but not least – the Jumbo BBQ wings were tender and juicy and coated in their fantastic BBQ sauce.

Our main courses arrived not long after our starters were cleared.

Pulled meat nachos - home-style nachos covered in pulled pork, brisket and pulled chicken topped with fresh red onion, jalapeños, housemade chilli con queso, sour cream and unholy BBQ sauce.
Pulled meat nachos – home-style nachos covered in pulled pork, brisket and pulled chicken topped with fresh red onion, jalapeños, housemade chilli con queso, sour cream and unholy BBQ sauce.
Pulled pork sandwich - North Carolina pulled pork in a glazed bun covered in apple sauce, slaw and unholy BBQ sauce.
Pulled pork sandwich – North Carolina pulled pork in a glazed bun covered in apple sauce, slaw and unholy BBQ sauce.
Texas beef brisket - 21 hour smoked beef brisket in a tangy BBQ gravy, served with fries and slaw.
Texas beef brisket – 21 hour smoked beef brisket in a tangy BBQ gravy, served with fries and slaw.
Combo 4 - Texas beef brisket and pulled pork - 21 hour smoked Texas brisket and north carolina pulled pork with fries and mac n cheese.
Combo 4 – Texas beef brisket and pulled pork – 21 hour smoked Texas brisket and north carolina pulled pork with fries and mac n cheese.

Once again the food smelled amazing and I could not believe the size of my pulled pork sandwich, it was huge! I wasn’t sure how to tackle it so I picked it up and bit into what was really yummy, the pulled pork tasted fantastic and the slaw works well with the meat, cutting through the richness. The bread bun is so soft and very tasty. The fries were crisp and the BBQ smoked beans really deep in flavour making it a good accompaniment to the sandwich. My fellow diners also enjoyed tucking into their dishes too, I was told the beef brisket was lovely and soft and had a deep meaty flavour. The BBQ gravy was very tasty, that and the slaw working well with the brisket. One of the condiments added was their North Carolina BBQ sauce (a vinegar based pepper sauce), which added another layer of flavour to the whole meal. The pulled meat nachos is something that I have tried to tackle before and knowing from experience it is a very satisfying eat, the nachos warm and crisp, the guacamole, sour cream, chilli con queso and unholy BBQ sauce in plentiful supply adding tonnes of flavour and the jalapeño peppers adding the extra kick, bringing the whole dish alive. Finally the Combo 4 – the beef brisket cooked to perfection and the pulled meat lovely and soft, topped with crispy crackling and gherkins. The chosen side of mac-n-cheese working well with its Jack cheese sauce. All in all a winner of a dish.

In terms of service and atmosphere, their staff are knowledgable on the food, quite happy to recommend dishes and obviously show passion for the philosophy of the restaurant. The atmosphere is always good with music of the American south playing in the background.

The cost of dishes can range from £2.95 – £9.45 for little plates, £8.50 – £21.95 for ribs depending on quantity, £8.50 – £17.95 for big plates, £8.95 – £19.95 for steaks and burgers and £5.95 – £9.95 for sandwich plates.

Our total bill for 4 people was £99.85, not including tips. Definitely worth the wait and value for money. We walked out of there completely satisfied and very full!!

Reds True Barbecue
Cloth Hall Street
Leeds
LS1 2HD
0113 834 5835