A couple of pop-ups

What’s happened to the weather? All of a sudden it’s turned a bit miserable again, from what seemed like a glorious summer with lots of sunshine and warmth it’s now turned into showers and a down turn in temperatures. Well anyway, even though the weather may not be up to much, there are a couple of pop-ups on at the moment which Leeds folk may be interested in.

Here are a couple of spots I was asked to have a nosey at and try out for free:

Rum Shack’s a pop-up run by three Leeds bartenders with a wealth of experience, with a beach bar feel selling rum based cocktails. If you went to Leeds Feast, you may’ve noticed them and enjoyed a thirst quenching reggae rum punch off them. If that’s your kind of thing then it’s easily found in the Northern Quarter, as it’s in-between the Belgrave Music Hall, Blind Tyger and Sandinista so you can’t miss it! Every few weeks they’ll be changing their cocktail menu, it’s a bit of fun and great way of using the space. I can imagine it could be a good way to start off the night -enjoy some rum punch, a piña colada or whatever they’ve got on their menu that sounds appealing, then nip into the Belgrave for a slice of Dough Boys pizza or Patty Smith’s for one of their legendary burgers and then wherever the evening takes you.

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Ice Bar – found upstairs in Bierkeller off the Headrow, the whole Ice Bar experience is something I’ve had before, but on a far more impressive scale in LapLand’s Ice Hotel. This is quite a small affair and for a fiver you get 25 minutes in the bar and whilst your sipping on either wine, Coor’s Light (the sponsors) or a small selection of spirits and mixers, you may want to have a game on the mini curling or take some selfies next to the polar bear ice sculpture if that floats your boat. 

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Zaap Thai Street Food, Leeds

Leeds’ Northern Quarter seems to have sprung a leak with Thai eateries over recent months – Merrion Street’s now got Bar Soba doing their Pan-Asian thing, popular Thai Aroy Dee has finally reopened a few doors from its original site, of course there’s My Thai (my current Thai fave) just up the road on Wade Lane, and with Zaap Thai this part of town is becoming a bit saturated in this department. When initial signs for the place first went up it created a stir on social media and since opening in May that’s not really stopped, it’s really grabbed people’s attention and resulted in lots of bums on seats!

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For those of you who’ve no idea who Zaap Thai Street Food are, they’re part of award-winning Sukhothai, their well known fine dining restaurants have been popular in and around the city for years. But with Zaap Thai they’ve gone down another path, the name itself sets its stall out to street food and as soon you enter you feel the energy of the place and start to absorb a multitude of sights and sounds. I imagine they’re trying to replicate the atmosphere you get wandering the markets of Thailand, with tuk tuks as eating booths, bright Thai advertising light boxes and street carts, its open kitchen adds to the atmosphere and the sense of being in the heart of Bangkok. 

Arriving around 7:45pm it was busy with a few groups ahead of us waiting, this was dealt with well by staff and not long after ordering drinks at the bar a table became available. Their no booking policy works out for them well I think – we turned up, got lured in by our surroundings, were willing to wait and immediately order drinks ….. game over. The place has a good atmosphere, it’s not too loud and even with music playing in the background being able to have a conversation isn’t a problem.

The menu’s pretty big and divided into dim sum or dim zum as they call it, salads, Krub Krib (snacks and nibbles), larger dishes such as grilled and roasted meat/seafood, noodles, dishes with rice and finally soup and sides. With a good mix from classics such as pad thai, massamam  curry and papaya salads alongside mussel pancakes and thai omelettes there’s plenty of choice. On first impressions the menu looked reasonably priced, starters were hitting the £3 – £5.50 mark and most larger dishes were between £6.50 – £8.50, seafood dishes a little more expensive. 

I didn’t want to get sucked into ordering non-Thai favourites so went for southern Thai chicken wings, my friend went for the crispy wonton. For our main courses we both went for belly pork, one with rice and one with Morning Glory greens. Ordering was a grab a someone’s attention affair rather than waiting for someone to come to us, as they were bezzing around, this I didn’t mind as I didn’t really see it as a formal setting. With orders marked down on the menu, which also doubled as placemats our server quickly scurried off.

My chicken ‘wings’ (2 x wings, 2 x drumsticks) arrived with sweet chilli sauce, a crisp light batter coated the meat which was moist and juicy, a bit of oomph was provided by the chilli sauce. As much as I love things fried in batter, and I realise this is how it’s done in Thai cuisine, I do prefer them without the batter and just like the skin to be really crisp. The wontons opposite me were polished off quickly, I thought they looked a little light on filling, but my friend was satisfied and had no complaints. 

Southern thai chicken wings, crispy wonton
Southern thai chicken wings, crispy wonton
crispy wonton
Crispy wonton

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There was a quick turn around and before we new it our main dishes were brought across, both ordering crispy belly pork – mine with boiled rice and a sauce spiked with a bit of chilli heat. Being someone with a mild belly pork obsession, I’m a bit of a traditionalist having eaten it since childhood Chinese style. I have to admit I was a tad disappointed with it, after hearing many good reports recently. Similarly to the chicken, the pork was coated in a light coating of crisp batter, I’m not sure if they cook it twice as the meat was a little tougher than I’d like and even though the meat had a sweetness, the sauce was needed to make up for any lack of flavour. My steamed veg side arrived late and needed chasing up as they’d forgotten about it, what baffled me was they take the time to circle it on my placemat, but then don’t use it to check them off?! In hindsight, I probably should’ve gone for a dish with stir fried veg which would’ve been more flavourful, as they were quite plain. My friends dish was tasty, but she’d openly admit that she’s greedy and would’ve liked the portion to be more generous. 

Khow Moo Krob Jae Ban - rice with crispy belly pork
Khow Moo Krob Jae Ban – rice with crispy belly pork
Steamed vegetables
Steamed vegetables
Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng Moo Krob - stir fried morning gory with oyster, chilli and garlic, with crispy belly pork
Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng Moo Krob – stir fried Morning Glory with oyster sauce, garlic and chilli, with crispy belly pork

Overall  I think the concept’s good and I like how they’ve tried to transport people to the streets of Bangkok, there’s tonnes of choice on the menu and it’s kind on the pocket too. The staff were friendly, but the service wasn’t perfect and I’d say from a first visit the food was a little hit and miss, I liked it but I didn’t love it and there’s room for improvement. In an area where there’s lots of competition at the moment, there are other places I prefer more and will probably stick to them.

Zaap Thai

Grand Arcade

Leeds

LS1 6PG

http://www.zaapthai.co.uk
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Al fresco dining

The longest day has been and gone which means summer’s officially here, bringing the odd day or two of pleasant weather so I thought I’d compile a list of places where you can indulge in a spot of al fresco dining. My feeling is we have to make the most of it when the opportunity arises.

Shears Yard – the younger sibling of Arts Cafe, this place likes to bring seasonal, local ingredients prepared and cooked in a modern British style. Paired with a good bar selection it’s a nice choice for dining outside if you prefer being away from the direct city centre hustle.

Cielo Blanco – come here for good Mexican market and street food and cracking cocktails. Found in Trinity shopping centre, there’s plenty of semi-outdoor tables (covered by Trinity’s roof) to try something from their menu, maybe one of their sharing boards. Also there’s seating on the terrace for drinks. 

Candle Bar – with wrap around outdoor dining space, you can have a view of a canal barge or two in the peace and quiet of Granary Wharf. The wood fired pizzas are a good bet for a decent feed here, on the drinks front being owned by Ossett Brewery helps no end in this department. Non beer drinkers need not worry either as they have a well thought out wine list and cocktails too. 

Belgrave Music Hall‘s roof terrace is perfect for this, with its mix of garden sheds, garden furniture, white picket fences providing quirky hipster cool vibes. Not only that, there’s a great view of the city and with the lure of street food from Dough Boys and Patty Smith’s you’re spoilt for choice. Any sign of sun and warmer temperatures the terrace becomes a people magnet! 

Pintura – with a few well placed outdoor tables and seats, slightly hidden by decorative plants and outdoor heaters. This could be well suited to those who need a break from the shops, wanting some Basque influenced pintxos and maybe one of their gins. 

Livin’italy – found in Granary Wharf, their pizzas, stuzzichini or one of their classic dishes paired with wine from their comprehensive wine list, an Italian beer or perhaps an Aperol Spritz would go down a treat. 

La Bottega Milanese – their Bond Court outpost has a courtyard area that’s perfect for their great coffee and something from their food counter like their antipasti platters, salads or pasta dishes. 

Bundobust – this popular bar not only serves some of the city’s best street food to compliment their high quality drink offerings, but the partially covered outside space provides a little bit of peace and quiet, even though you’re right in the centre of town.

I must also add there’s some fantastic outdoor spaces in and around Leeds where you can just have a picnic too, such as the beautiful surrounds of Kirkstall Abbey, Roundhay Park, Golden Acre Park, Chevin Forest Park, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and many more!!!

Can you recommend any other great spots for a bit of al fresco dining?

My June 

Yay, at last we are getting prolonged amounts of sunshine and warmth, isn’t it great!   

These are my highlights this month-

Moseying around The Plant Room, a collaboration between creative minds curated by The Archipelago – such a calming, reflective space filled with beautiful illustrations, ceramics, furniture and plants 

Singing to my hearts content at karaoke for a couple of hours! Ah, I’m always up for an impromptu karaoke session.

Putting the world to rights catching up with ex-work colleagues

Laughing a lot catching up with the Leeds lot, including our old friends who emigrated to New Zealand, just like old times! 

Enjoying leisurely cocktails at new bar Be At One! 

Reacquainting myself with newly reopened Thai Aroy Dee!!

Running like a lunatic with 100’s of others around St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London Mile

Rewarding myself with a tasty post-race brunch at Kopapa!!

Feeling great running alongside other women in the ridiculous heat of London’s Victoria Park for the Nike Women’s 10k

Breathing a massive sigh of relief finding ALL my important certificates, after thinking they’d were lost

Indulging in thirst quenching rum cocktails, courtesy of Rum Shack’s pop up – thanks by the way. Love the rum punch!

Savouring a mini feast from The Greedy Pig‘s new small plates menu, I definitely recommend trying it for yourself!

Reminisced to a previous time in my life when it was all about art and music, listening mesmerised to a virtuoso performance of Bruch’s violin concerto with the Airedale Symphony Orchestra and wondering why I gave up playing

Picking strawberries from the local farm, just in time to eat whilst watching Wimbledon!